Microsoft is violating anti-competition legislation, says Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky lab

Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab, has presented evidence that Microsoft is pushing out third party anti-virus software companies from its ecosystem.

Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab, a leading cyber security services vendor, has presented evidence that Microsoft is pushing out third party anti-virus software companies from its ecosystem.

The problem is with the latest version of Windows 10. The bundled Windows Defender app aggressively pushes itself to users over third party anti-virus software. On upgrading to the latest version of Windows 10, Microsoft disables "incompatible" security applications. Windows Defender takes over even if the software passes the initial compatibility check. If users have installed a third party security service, and are using it, Windows pushes out an alert claiming weaker security because Windows Defender is disabled.

Enabling Defender prevents the existing anti-virus software from working, but this is not immediately apparent from the graphics used in the alert window. Additionally, Microsoft has restricted third party software vendors from pushing alerts to continue subscriptions, to within three days after expiry of the license. If a user forgets to renew a license, there is a buried notification in the Security Center, and Windows turns on Defender.

Microsoft has limited the operating system to support just one anti-virus software. This may seem like a bad idea because the software might be incompatible, fight over viruses and use up too many resources. However, it prevents users from running trial versions of anti-virus software while being subscribed to a service. If such a situation occurs, Windows turns off both anti-virus software and turns on Defender.

The rule for only one anti virus software on the operating system does not apply to Defender itself. Defender scans the system periodically, and on such scans, prompts the user to switch to Defender.

Kaspersky claims that having a single anti-virus solution for all Windows users is in itself a security threat. Malicious attackers will have to get through the defenses of just one software instead of compromising a wide range of anti-virus software. Kaspersky also alleges that Windows Defender provides security that is markedly below the industry standard, in terms of false positives and missed samples.

Chris Hallum, Senior Product Manager of Windows Client Security at Microsoft, outlined improvements to Windows Defender for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update in a video posted on YouTube. Over the course of the video (at 58:20), Hallum says "I can't promise you we will be number one, but I can promise you that we will be within a tenth of a point, so meaning basically like we have very comparable protection. And so this is something that I think you should put on a roadmap, I want you to evaluate it, and I want you to think about kicking out third party antivirus."

The blog post by Eugene Kaspersky calls for co-operation from the entire third party software industry, as well as anti-virus vendors, to take on Microsoft for its violation of anti-competition legislation. Kaspersky has taken up the matter with official bodies around the world, including the EU and Russia.

Responses to the post ranged from cheering Kaspersky in taking such a measure, to users who genuinely wanted an integrated security solution from Microsoft.

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