Preston Gralla argues that Microsoft is more transparent, more cautious, and more open to regulation than its other tech counterparts, suggesting that it is making an effort to “become the tech industry’s conscience.”
Why the change? The cynical explanation: Microsoft is no longer at the bright, hot center of the technology industry. Facebook, Google and Amazon are taking hits right now over potential misuse of facial-recognition software. So Microsoft has a lot to gain by becoming the industry’s conscience, potentially hurting competitors and gaining the good will of consumers.
The less cynical explanation: Corporations, like people, mellow as they hit middle age and beyond and start thinking about their legacies. The company was founded more than 40 years ago, which by tech standards is ancient, and so it has matured and truly believes it can help technology do good things.
The way I see it, the reason that Microsoft changed its tune doesn’t matter. It should keep trying to stop the Russians from hacking our elections and use its weight to call for government regulation of technology when it’s warranted. Good is good, regardless of the underlying motivations. And Microsoft, at least in these two instances, is on the side of the good.