Kaspersky lab has filed an antitrust suit against Microsoft in Europe and Russia after Eugene Kaspersky accused the company of anti-competitive practices and putting customers in danger by promoting its own antivirus tools at the expense of others.
In a strongly worded blog post entitled That’s It. I’ve Had Enough! Kaspersky likened the fight to that between David and Goliath, but with the Microsoft Goliath "squeezing independent developers out" of specialist areas.
Of course, this isn't a new phenomenon. The EU only recently lifted a sanction that forced Microsoft to offer a choice of browsers to end the dominance of its own Internet Explorer.
Kaspersky has now argued that Microsoft's latest practices with Windows 10 are just as bad.
"Users of Windows 10 have been complaining that the system is changing settings, uninstalling user-installed apps and replacing them with standard Microsoft ones. A similar thing’s been happening with security products," he said.
Kaspersky accused Microsoft of giving third parties as little notice as possible, often just one week, to start preparing for changes to the Windows system, and then blocking any incompatibilities in favour of its own Windows Defender, which has gone from being a backstop, to being the de facto and, if Microsoft is to be believed, the only security tool Windows 10 users need.
Kaspersky went on to talk about alarming pop-ups that are created if Windows 10 detects that Windows Defender is off, even saying that a third-party solution is unnecessary and actively shouldn’t be on. A second antivirus solution is allowed, but only if it’s Windows Defender.
He also accused Microsoft of not offering sufficient ability for third parties to warn customers if their coverage has expired, instead opting to turn on Defender.
Kaspersky also claimed that Windows Defender hasn’t tested well compared with other antivirus packages, and is considered “below average” in terms of effectiveness and features.
"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 said.
"In doing so, Microsoft is acting against the interests of users since a lot of its products are of inferior quality. Browsers, gaming hubs, image viewing, processing of multimedia files and PDF documents, cyber security and many others are already suffering from this and, as a consequence, so are users.
"And it looks like this is only the beginning. What'll be next in the firing line? Virtual machines? Cloud services?"
An embedded video from an internal Microsoft training film shows the smoking gun. In one scene a Redmond advisor actually states: "I want you to think about kicking out the third-party antivirus because we’ve got a great solution right now and it’s going to be even better in the months to come."
Kaspersky believes that, despite repeatedly failing to create a workable antivirus product, Microsoft is under pressure from investors to get the numbers up, hence all the pop-ups.
"We think that Microsoft has been using its dominating position in the market of operating systems to create competitive advantages for its own products," he said.
"The company is foisting its Defender on the user, which isn’t beneficial from the point of view of protection of a computer against cyber attacks. The company is also creating obstacles for companies to access the market ,and infringes on the interests of independent developers of security products."
Kaspersky confirmed that his company has filed antitrust charges against Microsoft with the relevant authorities in a move that could have huge implications for both organisations and the wider sector.
"Therefore, 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," he said.
Microsoft has yet to respond to a request for comment on Kaspersky's stance, but the firm will have to address the criticisms and concerns at some point. This one could run and run.
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