The government has asked global software giant Microsoft to offer a “one-time special” discount to its users in India so that they can move to the latest operating system (OS) and stay protected against malware and ransomware attacks.

“We have asked Microsoft to offer a one-time special pricing, so that people are able to replace their old OS with the latest OS (Windows 10),” National Cyber Security Advisor Gulshan Rai told PTI.

The response from Microsoft has been positive and they have agreed in-principle, he added.

While the pricing discount is still under discussion, the government would like it to be Rs 1,000 or lower, Mr. Rai said adding that the idea is to ensure that people are able to upgrade their systems in the wake of ransomware attacks. Microsoft did not respond to email queries.

Windows 10 Home is currently available for about Rs 8,000, while the Professional version costs about Rs 13,000. Millions of computers in India operate on Windows operating system. However, only a small portion of this is powered by the latest Windows 10 OS.

Piracy is also rampant in the country, which makes users vulnerable to cyberattacks as they do not receive security patches in India.

Earlier this week, ‘Petya’ ramsomware hit one of the terminals at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and partially disrupted operations of private port operator APM Terminals Pipavav. In May, another ransomware WannaCry had affected systems in over 100 countries, including India.

Once infected by the ransomware, the systems are locked and a ransom is demanded — usually in cryptocurrency like Bitcoins — to recover the files. However, it is not clear whether the systems are decrypted after the payment is made.