Russian antivirus vendor Kaspersky Lab has asked antitrust regulators in various countries (including the European Union and Russia) to make Microsoft stop giving an unfair advantage to Windows Defender.
Microsoft is making it hard for independent virus vendors to compete with Windows Defender, Microsoft’s own antivirus application built-in to Windows 8 and Windows 10, according to founder of Kaspersky Lab, Eugene Kaspersky.
For example, when users upgraded to Windows 10, their own antivirus product was disabled and Windows Defender was enabled by default.
Another showcase of Microsoft’s way of making it harder to compete is that antivirus companies only received a week to make their antivirus software compatible with Windows 10. And even when the antivirus software was compatible, Windows Defender would be enabled nevertheless.
If Windows Defender was disabled (and other antivirus software was running) it would show a warning, asking the user to uninstall their antivirus software and to turn on Windows Defender. Kaspersky argues that many users would think, “well, it’s from Microsoft – the people who make the OS; must be good; no harm in turning it on for sure”.
Another complaint Kaspersky has is that Microsoft has limited the possibilities antivirus companies have to warn users that their license is about to expire. Microsoft only allows a warning in the Windows Security Center, which normally users hardly ever read. If the user doesn’t timely extend his license, the antivirus software is disabled and Windows Defender is activated.
Kaspersky also criticizes the fact that Microsoft has limited the number of virus scanners users can have on a single system. One antivirus application is normally allowed, except for Microsoft’s own Windows Defender. Even when another antivirus application is installed, Windows Defender will occasionally become active and again ask the user to turn on Windows Defender and uninstall other antivirus applications.
And all of it is not even beneficial to the user.
He also has an idea what Microsoft is up to, “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.”
Kaspersky goes on stating, “The company’s [Microsoft’s] intentions are easy to work out: (i) to try and get everyone to head over to the Windows Store; (ii) to levy an additional tax on independent developers; (iii) to strictly control who can do what; (iv) to suppress the competition with standardization and regulation; and (v) to further gradually take over the whole ecosystem – all to provide stable growth of profits. Put another way – to have a totalitarian/police-state platform in which there’s no place for independent developers or freedom of choice for users.”
Kaspersky Lab has therefore decided to take action, “We’ve taken the decision to address official bodies in various countries (including the EU and Russia) with a request to oblige Microsoft to cease its violation of anti-competition legislation and to remove the consequences of that violation.”
The company wants Microsoft to provide new versions and updates of Windows to independent developers in good time so they can maintain compatibility of their software to Windows. It also wants to force Microsoft to explicitly inform the user of the presence of incompatible software before upgrading Windows and to recommend the user to install a compatible version of the software after the upgrade and to always explicitly ask the user for his/her approval to enable Windows Defender.
Also other antivirus vendors are unhappy according to Kaspersky, “Despite Microsoft slowly killing off the independent security industry, so far, we’re the only ones who have bitten the bullet and decided to say something about this publicly.”
Kaspersky also warns that not only security companies should be worried about Microsoft’s business tactics, also other software developers on the Windows platform are in danger. Therefore Kaspersky calls for all independent software developers to “form an united front and all fight together”.