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Kaspersky To EU: Microsoft ‘Abuses’ Dominant Cybersecurity Position With Windows 10

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Kaspersky Labs complains to the EU, claiming Microsoft deliberately obstructs third party vendors to the detriment of users and security

Kaspersky claims Microsoft is abusing its dominant position in the operating system market to stop people purchasing third party security software and boost Windows Defender. 

In complaints to both the European Commission (EC) and the German Federal Cartel Officer, the Russian cybersecurity firm alleges that the behaviour of Windows 10 and how it suppresses antivirus software eliminates choice, weakens protection and results in losses for both users and vendors. 

Last year, Kaspersky made a similar complaint to Russian authorities and says Microsoft has made some changes as a result. 

Eugene Kaspersky CeBIT 2014 (800x600)

Dominant position  

“We see clearly – and are ready to prove – that Microsoft uses its dominant position in the computer operating system (OS) market to fiercely promote its own – inferior – security software (Windows Defender) at the expense of users’ previously self-chosen security solution,” said Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab.  

“Such promotion is conducted using questionable methods, and we want to bring these methods to the attention of the anti-competition authorities.” 

Kaspersky says Windows 10 does not allow Windows Defender to be switched off by default, causing conflicts with other security software which requires permission from users to perform actions such as scans. 

It also alleges that users are told any incomaptible applications will be saved when they upgrade to Windows 10, but in reality, the drivers are deleted and the software is rendered unusuable and any future update is useless. 

Furthermore, third party software is allegedly restricted in how it delivers notifications and must instead use the Windows 10 Action Centre, a feature Kaspersky says no one uses. 

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Changing behaviour 

Kaspersky also wants Microsoft to introduce a ready to market (RTM) version of Windows two months before any update is released so developers can ensure their software works. Because Windows 10 receives incremental updates like iOS or Android, new versions of Windows are released much more rapidly and vendors only receive the RTM edition a few days before launch. 

“We want Microsoft to stop misleading and misinforming our – and not only our – users,” added Eugene Kaspersky. “We want to see all security solutions being able to work on the Windows platform on a level playing field. And we want to see users being able to decide for themselves what they want and consider important to them.  

“Besides, we want fair and healthy competition, which has always given excellent results everywhere – no matter in which industry or market. And btw, we invite all our competitors/colleagues to join us: as we’ve already shown, turning to antitrust bodies does bring positive change.  

“And remember: the only folks who gain unequivocally if there is a monopoly in the security products market are cybercriminals. They’d love nothing more than to be able to concentrate on trying to out-smart the single security solution of a monopolist.” 

Microsoft told Silicon it would comply with any requests from authorities. 

“Microsoft’s primary objective is to keep customers protected,” said a spokesperson. “We are confident that the security features of Windows 10 comply with competition laws. And we will answer any questions regulators may have.” 

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