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Kaspersky Wants Microsoft AV Antitrust Investigations

Russia has launched an antitrust case into Microsoft after the founder of Moscow-headquartered anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab alleged the tech giant has abused its dominant position to foist its own AV products on customers.

In a lengthy blog post late last week, founder and CEO Eugene Kaspersky argued that the Redmond giant has slowly squeezed independent developers from its Windows platform and offered its own products, “which in many cases were in no way better.”

“When you upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft automatically and without any warning deactivates all ‘incompatible’ security software and in its place installs … you guessed it – its own Defender antivirus,” he added.

“But what did it expect when independent developers were given all of one week before the release of the new version of the OS to make their software compatible? Even if software did manage to be compatible according to the initial check before the upgrade, weird things tended to happen and Defender would still take over.”

Even if the user has installed compatible products they will be urged to switch to Defender – and therefore automatically deactivate the third-party software – with a large “Turn On” button, Kaspersky claimed.

He also argued that Microsoft has buried warning notices from third party software designed to encourage customers to renew expired AV licenses. And it has restricted the number of AVs allowed to run on a machine.

“Let’s say you’ve an independent AV. You intentionally – or not (e.g., with bundled software) – install a trial version of a different AV, but forget to delete it or purchase a license for it,” said Kaspersky.

“When the trial period is up, Windows quietly turns off both AVs, and – you guessed it – turns on Defender! So, it’s out with two non-Microsoft products, and in with one Microsoft product, in no way whatsoever for a more comfortable – or safer – user experience.”

Kaspersky Lab has now asked the EU and Russian governments to investigate these alleged anti-competitive practices, with the latter’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) already taking action.

“Since ‘Microsoft’ itself develops antivirus software – Windows Defender that switches on automatically if third-party software fails to adapt to Windows 10 in due time, such actions lead to unreasonable advantages for ‘Microsoft’ on the software market,” said FAS deputy head, Anatoly Golomolzin. “Our task is to ensure equal conditions for all participants on this market”.

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