Russia Investigates Microsoft Over Kaspersky Antitrust Claims

Eugene Kaspersky

Kaspersky claims Windows 10 makes every effort to deactivate third-party security tools

Russia’s antitrust regulator said it has opened an investigation into Microsoft’s commercial practices around its Windows 10 operating system following a complaint by Moscow-based computer security firm Kaspersky Lab.

The country’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) said the way Windows 10 handles third-party security products could “lead to unreasonable advantages for Microsoft on the software market”.

‘I’ve had enough’

kaspersky ferrari GT3 drivers“Our task is to ensure equal conditions for all participants on this market,” said deputy FAS head Anatoly Golomolzin in a statement.

The probe follows a lengthy blog post published by Kaspersky Lab founder Eugene Kaspersky that alleges Microsoft is “using its dominating position in the market of operating systems to create competitive advantages for its own product”.

Windows 10 includes a built-in security tool called Windows Defender, and the operating system takes every opportunity to remove third-party products and activate its own program, Kaspersky said.

Third-party security vendors were given only one week to make their products compatible with the platform, with the result that in many cases they are flagged as “incompatible” and deactivated, he said.

“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. 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?”

Developers ‘squeezed out’

Even if a program was listed as “compatible” the operating system would still find ways to replace it with Windows Defender, he said.

As an example he cited an “alarming window” that appears warning users that Windows Defender has been switched off if a third-party tool is installed.

He argued that Microsoft’s presentation of a “turn on” button for Windows Defender is unfair because if users click it, it deactivates existing third-party products with no direct notification.

“The trend is clear: Microsoft is gradually squeezing independent developers out of the Windows ecosystem if it has its own application for this or that purpose,” he wrote.

Microsoft said it hadn’t yet received any offical notification of a probe.

“Microsoft Russia and Kaspersky Lab have a long history of cooperation in different areas,” the company stated. “Microsoft is committed to work in full compliance with Russian law. The company hasn’t received an official notification from FAS. As soon as we get it, we will review it carefully.”

Microsoft has been convicted of antitrust behaviour in the past over its promotion of the Internet Explorer browser in Windows.

In September Salesforce asked the European Commission to investigate Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of LinkedIn.

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