Eugen Kaspersky, head of the Russian security company Kaspersky Lab has accused Microsoft of anti-competitive practices in the Windows 10 operating system.
Kaspersky complains that Microsoft pushes Windows Defender on Windows 10 devices to the detriment of third-party antivirus vendors.
We think that Microsoft has been using its dominating position in the market of operating systems to create competitive advantages for its own product. The company is foisting its Defender on the user, which isn’t beneficial from the point of view of protection of a computer against cyberattacks. The company is also creating obstacles for companies to access the market, and infringes upon the interests of independent developers of security products.
Microsoft's own solution, Windows Defender, ships with Windows 10 to protect users on a basic level against threats.
Windows Defender can be best described as basic protection. Independent tests by organizations such as AV Tests have shown that Windows Defender does not offer the same level of protection as most third-party antivirus solutions.
While that is the case, it protects against many major threats that users may be exposed to while using the computer.
Microsoft designed Windows Defender to jump in if no third-party antivirus program is found on the computer the operating system is running on. If the user installs a third-party product, Windows Defender will disable itself automatically to avoid conflicts.
Kaspersky's lengthy complaint comes down to this: Windows 10 may deactivate installed third-party antivirus solutions during system upgrades because of incompatibilities. The operating system may furthermore push notifications that "tell" the user that Windows Defender protection is turned off even if a third-party product is installed, and will turn on Windows Defender a couple of days after a third-party product expires.
If you dissect the claims, you may come to the conclusion that there are two sides to the story. First, that it seems appropriate for Windows 10 to turn on Windows Defender if no or expired third-party products are found on the system.
This raises the question whose fault it is when that happens.
Second, that Windows 10 has its fair share of issues including those affecting the incompatibility check during system upgrades. If you upgraded Windows 10 to a new version, or from an older version of Windows to Windows 10, you may have noticed the following behavior.
The upgrade assistant notifies you that software XY is incompatible with Windows 10. You upgrade anyway, and install software XY after the upgrade on the system without issues and it runs just fine on it.
Kaspersky suggests two changes to level the playing field. First, that Microsoft provides third-parties with new versions of Windows and updates in "good time". Second, that the install and notification system changes to make it clearer to users that the process will remove third-party antivirus software.
It is clear that the current system of checking for incompatibilities is problematic for companies affected by it as it is likely that a percentage of users won't re-install these products after upgrades complete. Notifications about these things, and others, could be better as well to help users better understand the implications.
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