Kaspersky expands its antitrust crusade against Microsoft to Europe

A major player in PC security is pretty pissed off at Microsoft and it wants the whole world to know about it. In another scathing blog post—the second one in seven months—Kaspersky raked Microsoft over the coals over the way it favors its own "inferior" Windows Defender antivirus software in Windows 10 over third-party solutions.

"We see clearly—and are ready to prove—that Microsoft uses its dominant position in the computer operating system (OS) 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," Kaspersky writes.

The antivirus maker first raged against Microsoft in November of last year. In a lengthy blog post, Kaspersky outlined several grievances, one of them being that Microsoft "automatically and without warning" disables all incompatible security software when upgrading to Windows 10 and replaces them with Windows Defender. Kaspersky complained that third-party AV makers were only given a week before the release of Windows 10 to make their security software compatible, and even they did, "weird things tended to happen and Defender would still take over."

Kaspersky ended up filing an antitrust complaint with Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS). More recently, it has also filed a pair of complaints in Europe with the European Commission and German Federal Cartel Office.

In a new blog post discussing those recent antitrust complains, Kaspersky said its previous effort has already borne some fruit, noting that Microsoft addressed some of the issued it complained to the FAS about. However, Kaspersky feels Microsoft can do more.

"Let’s start with the fact that Microsoft’s antivirus is hardwired into all versions of Windows 10 for home users: it’s impossible to turn it off completely, impossible to delete. Until recently no one asked you if you needed it or not. There was a time when, even if you used a different security solution, Microsoft’s own AV all the same periodically ran scans," Kaspersky laments.

Kaspersky. Click for Original.

Kaspersky. Click for Original. (Image credit: Kaspersky)

Kaspersky also points out that Windows 10 steps in with a pop-up window whenever a user attempts to perform any action with a third-party AV solution, such as the one above. The beef it has with this is that the pop-up messages make it sound like "users are about to commit a wrongful action that violates the default settings from Microsoft."

Other grievances outlined in the blog post include:

  • The way Windows 10 handles expired third-party AV licenses (after a three-day lapse, third-party AV software is unable to uses its own notification system to encourage users to extend their license, and must use Microsoft's Action Center instead.
  • The sometimes "mysterious disappearance" of third-party AV software when upgrading to Windows 10.
  • Microsoft not giving third-party AV makes sufficient time to ensure compatibility prior to major new updates being rolled out.

Kaspersky seems to be the only one making this kind of noise about Microsoft's handling of third-party AV software, though the company previously stated that it's not alone. In private circles, Kaspersky says there are dozens of other unhappy companies in the industry, but that none are willing to speak up.

A Microsoft spokesperson reached out with the following statement: 

“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 antimalware vendors and have taken a number of steps to address their feedback. We 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."

Complaints aside, Kaspersky is one of the better third-party AV programs for gamers. We still prefer Bitdefender overall, which tops our list as the best AV program, but Kaspersky is also excellent.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).