Thursday, 08 June 2017 10:13

Kaspersky files anti-trust plaints against Microsoft Featured

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Cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab has complained to the European Commission and the German Federal Cartel Office against what it calls Microsoft's abuse of its dominant position in the operating system market and its unfair competition in the anti-virus market.

The company said after Windows 10 was released, Microsoft began creating obstacles to other security solution manufacturers and devised new methods to force users to forgo third-party software in favour of Windows Defender.

"These actions by Microsoft lead to (i) a lower level of protection for users, (ii) a limitation on their right to choose, and (iii) financial losses both for users and security solutions manufacturers," Kaspersky Lab alleged.

Last year, the company had filed a similar complaint against Microsoft with Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service.

Kaspersky Lab founder Eugene Kaspersky claimed in a blog post that his company had initiated the action because of concern for users.

"We have users – hundreds of millions thereof all around the world. These folks trust us and depend on us to protect their data. They expect only the highest level of protection – that’s why they chose us (and even if they chose different independent anti-virus software, they’re still affected by all this).

"And it’s namely the right of these folks to choose exactly what they want that we’re trying to protect."

Windows warning.

Eugene said his company was ready to prove "that Microsoft uses its dominant position in the computer operating system market to fiercely promote its own — inferior — security software (Windows Defender) at the expense of users’ previously self-chosen security solution.

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

He said the complaint to the Russian authorities had brought about some results. "Microsoft has fixed some of the issues that we highlighted – and did so without waiting for FAS to issue an official statement."

Eugene said Microsoft used pop-ups (seen above) to warn against the installation of Kaspersky's software, using language that could be taken to mean that it (Kaspersky's software) was inferior and could not be trusted.

Additionally, he said, for three days after a licence for Kaspersky software expired, it could not issue any reminders to users; this could only be done through Microsoft's Action Centre. This had happened only after the release of Windows 10 and only applied to anti-virus software.

"Thus, it looks like, after years with no success (in competing with other anti-virus software), Microsoft has resorted to the use of alternative, OS-empowered (in our view – underhand) tactics," Eugene claimed.

He also alleged that Kaspersky software often went missing when people upgraded to Windows 10. "In many cases, while the update is still ongoing – perhaps due to those same underhand tactics again – Windows decides that your existing security solution is, after all, incompatible with Windows 10, deletes its drivers (leaving a bunch of useless files (the solution won’t work without the drivers)), and in its place switches on its own solution."

A Microsoft spokesperson told iTWire: “Microsoft's primary objective is to keep customers protected and we are confident that the security features of Windows 10 comply with competition laws.

"We're always interested in feedback from other companies and we engage deeply with anti-malware vendors and have taken a number of steps to address their feedback."

The spokesperson claimed that the company had "reached out directly to Kaspersky a number of months ago offering to meet directly at an executive level to better understand their concerns, but that meeting has not yet taken place".

Kaspersky Lab, for its part, has said it decided to appeal "to the respective legal authorities after its multiple requests to Microsoft were not addressed".

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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