Microsoft's Strategy to Phase Out VBScript
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Microsoft has announced plans to gradually retire VBScript from upcoming Windows versions after three decades of usage. The programming language, VBScript (often referred to as Visual Basic Script or Microsoft Visual Basic Scripting Edition), bears similarities to Visual Basic and VBA. Introduced in August 1996, it came as a package with Internet Explorer and was key to active scripting within Windows and facilitated communication via Windows Script with hosting applications.
In their recent announcement, Microsoft confirmed, "VBScript is on its way out. Future Windows editions will offer it as an optional feature until it's finally excluded."
For some time, users will have the VBScript feature pre-installed to ensure a smooth transition leading up to its phase-out.
"Features on Demand" (FODs) in Windows, like .NET Framework, Hyper-V, and the Windows Subsystem for Linux, are those that aren't loaded by default but can be integrated if needed. In line with this, the July 2019 update saw Microsoft deactivating VBScript as a default in Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 10.
Microsoft's decision to sideline VBScript appears to coincide with their earlier discontinuation of Internet Explorer. This action has a silver lining: a commonly used channel for malicious entities to introduce harmful payloads into Windows systems has been obstructed.
This initiative falls under a larger scheme of reducing risks associated with malware campaigns that exploit Windows and Office features. VBScript, in the past, was weaponized to deliver malware such as Lokibot, Emotet, Qbot, and the more recent DarkGate malware.
Microsoft's efforts in bolstering security began in 2018 by amplifying AMSI support for Office 365 apps, diminishing threats from VBA macros. Following this, the company disabled Excel 4.0 macros, introduced protective measures against XLM macros, mandated blocking VBA Office macros by default, and started blocking unverified XLL add-ins in Microsoft 365 for users globally.
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