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Kaspersky Lab to drop EU complaint against Microsoft

Security firm Kaspersky Lab is to drop a complaint that Microsoft is abusing its market dominance to promote its security software in light of changes to the latest Windows 10

In June 2017, Kaspersky Lab complained to Russian and European Union officials that Microsoft was using its market dominance to promote its Windows Defender software by bundling it with Windows 10.

Specifically, the security firm was unhappy that Microsoft’s antivirus was hardwired into all versions of Windows 10 for home users, and that it was impossible to turn it off completely or delete, that Windows 10 continually questioned users whether they wanted to run third-party security software, and that Windows 10 upgrades deleted third-party security software drivers.

“We want to see all security solutions being able to work on the Windows platform on a level playing field, and we want to see users being able to decide for themselves what they want and consider important to them,” Eugene Kaspersky, co-founder and CEO of Kaspersky Lab wrote in a blog post.

In late June 2017, Microsoft admitted that Windows 10 updates disabled some third-party security software, but claimed this was purely because of compatibility issues

Rob Lefferts, director of program management, Windows Enterprise and Security at Microsoft, said in a blog post that when the Windows 10 Creators Update was released on 11 April 2017, Microsoft’s application compatibility teams found that about 5% antivirus applications installed on Windows 10 computers were incompatible with the update.

“For the small number of applications that still needed updating, we built a feature just for antivirus apps that would prompt the customer to install a new version of their antivirus app right after the update completed.

“To do this, we first temporarily disabled some parts of the antivirus software when the update began,” he said.

Read more about Windows 10

However, in his latest blog post, Lefferts announced that Microsoft will implement changes in the “Windows 10 Fall Creators Update” in response to consultations with antivirus (AV) partners like Kaspersky Lab at the Microsoft Virus Initiative forum in July.

“We made great progress in building upon our shared understanding of how we deliver Windows 10 updates,” he wrote.

Lefferts said changes would include working more closely with AV suppliers to help them with compatibility reviews in advance of each feature update becoming available to customers; giving AV partners better visibility and certainty around release schedules for feature updates; and enabling AV providers to use their own alerts and notifications to renew antivirus products before and after they have expired.

“We have modified how Windows will inform users when their antivirus application has expired and is no longer protecting them. Instead of providing an initial toast notification that users could ignore, the new notification will persist on the screen until the user either elects to renew the existing solution or chooses to rely on Windows Defender or another solution provider,” he said.

In response, Kaspersky Lab said it would withdraw the complaints made against Microsoft.

“We are absolutely satisfied with the changes that will be implemented in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, and we will be taking all necessary steps to withdraw our claims and inform all regulatory bodies that we no longer have any matters for Microsoft to address,” said Andrei Mochola, vice-president of consumer products at Kaspersky Lab.

“We are grateful Microsoft is addressing these issues completely, making sure that both partnerships and diversity are preserved on the market for both user and industry benefit,” he wrote in a blog post.

More time to test software behaviour

Mochola said providing cyber security developers more time to prepare for upcoming Windows updates and receive the final Windows builds earlier will allow security suppliers to test every aspect of their software’s behaviour in the new version of the operating system, prior to its release, to ensure excellent compatibility.

“The more your security solution is compatible with your operating system, the less it affects performance and stability. That also means that there should be no switch-offs due to incompatibility issues,” he said.

Mochola welcomed the fact suppliers will be allowed to show their own notifications to help users renew licences before and after they have expired.

“Keeping the security solution and its databases up to date is absolutely necessary to ensure a strong level of protection, so these notifications have to be unmissable,” he said.

Mochola said Kaspersky Lab has a “long history of cooperation” with Microsoft and that the promised changes will make the cyber security market healthier, resulting in better protection for all users. “Protecting information and the data that matters most to our users remains our primary goal,” he said.

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