Kaspersky: Windows 10's antivirus integration anti-competitive

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 14, 2016
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Windows, Windows 10

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.

Closing Words

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.

Now You: What's your take on the claim?

Kaspersky: Windows 10's antivirus integration anti-competitive
Article Name
Kaspersky: Windows 10's antivirus integration anti-competitive
Eugen Kaspersky, head of the Russian security company Kaspersky Lab has accused Microsoft of anti-competitive practices in the Windows 10 operating system.
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  1. Bobo said on January 21, 2017 at 2:12 pm
    1. Mikhoul said on January 21, 2017 at 7:29 pm

      I forgot to activate Kaspersky use a VPN for the country where you downloaded it cause it will look for your IP to validate the license,

    2. Mikhoul said on January 21, 2017 at 7:01 pm

      ThanksI was with Avira before I will give it a try soon, I’m on a trial version of KAV and I really like it.

      I was with Avira before but since last summer Avira removed the “white list” for false detection so for me it had become useless.

      I found a way to put the Kaspersky interface in English:

      You cannot change language in the interface of Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, and English versions of Kaspersky Anti-Virus (all versions), Kaspersky Internet Security (all versions) and Kaspersky PURE (all versions).

      For all other languages, you can easily change the interface language of your Kaspersky Lab product to English and back to its initial language.

      In order to change the current interface language of your Kaspersky Lab product to English, perform the following actions:

      Open your Kaspersky Lab product.
      Press the key combination Shift + F12 on the keyboard.

      Once you perform the actions described above, the product interface language will change to English.

      In order to toggle the language back, perform the following actions:

      Open your Kaspersky Lab product.
      Press the key combination Shift + F5 on the keyboard.

      Once you perform the actions described above, the product interface language will toggle back.

  2. Owl said on November 16, 2016 at 6:39 am

    a different Martin: That was interesting, (judge giving interview). Why not run with Mint 17.2 or 17.3 – both supported until 2019. You can always back up files externally and just install 18.1 over top of it. :)

    1. A different Martin said on November 17, 2016 at 3:24 am

      @ Owl: Thanks, I actually am pretty busy right now and I don’t have time to solve any potential problems or figure out new ways of doing things for the time being. I need to be able to use my computer to get stuff done in the small amount of time I have, so the fact that Mint 18.1 will probably be out around the time things slow down for me is really just icing on the cake. (It will supposedly support Snap and Flatpak, features I am interested in. If Snap and Flatpak work as advertised and developers start producing “universal” Linux apps in either format, my forced patience might pay off.)

      I ran 17.2 in a virtual machine for a while, enough to get my feet wet, but an in-place upgrade to 17.3 borked it. I’ve been running 18 in a virtual machine for a bit too, but also just enough to get my feet wet, as I got busy shortly after installing it and configuring it. What can I say? It’s been updating really nicely, and that’s about all I’ve have time for.

      Microsoft’s conduct prior to and during US v. Microsoft was actually pretty egregious. To my mind, the outcome of that case marked the death of serious public antitrust enforcement in the US. It’s a sad state of affairs.

  3. Gloating Scoundrel said on November 15, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Having gone all-in with Ubuntu, this household is now all Linux, these days I have very little to do PC-wise.

    I am kinda missing the fun you-all are having with all this crap.

    But — not enough though. LOL

    AKA Rotten Scoundrel

  4. A different Martin said on November 15, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    I don’t know how legitimate this particular beef is, but Microsoft does have a history of favoring its own applications, features, and products over third parties’, going back to when they deliberately sabotaged Windows compatibility with Lotus 1-2-3 in order to promote early versions of Excel. (If the first trial judge in the US v. Microsoft antitrust case hadn’t done an embargoed interview with a journalist in which he mentioned his findings of fact as to Microsoft’s dishonesty and underhandedness, there was a very good chance Microsoft would have been broken up into two or three separate companies, one selling Windows and the other one or two selling applications and/or hardware. The journalist leaked the interview, the trial judge was replaced on remand, and the incoming Dubya administration’s Justice Department settled the case in exchange for a promise from Microsoft to play nice for ten years. That consent decree expired six years ago.) One might ask what the financial incentive is to promote a free in-house antivirus over a paid third-party AV. Protecting questionable in-house telemetry and tracking features is one potential answer. But again, it may in fact take a Russian or EU anti-competition investigation determine how well founded Kaspersky’s complaint is.

    As for myself, I agreed with Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson back in the 90s, and I’m spotting a resurgence of the same dishonesty and underhandedness again. First, there was Microsoft’s deceptive and coercive Get Windows 10 campaign. Then, they introduced mystery-meat rollups in lieu of discrete updates. Then, on my Windows 7 Pro laptop, Microsoft ignored my Windows Update settings and went ahead and installed “Important” updates without my consent (for both “Download but let me decide whether to install” and later “Notify me but let me decide whether to download and install”). I’m super-busy right now, and besides, the release of Linux Mint 18.1 has been postponed until December, but let’s just say that Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” Scandal’s “Goodbye to You,” and Oingo Boingo’s “Goodbye, Goodbye” have been playing in my head an awful lot lately, and it’s not because of my love life. (Yes, I’m that old. Anyway, don’t make fun. Bob Dylan just won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and Oingo Boingo’s lead man, Danny Elfman, wrote the theme song for the Simpsons. That’s right: the Simpsons. I will now leave you to your newfound hushed respect for old goats. ;-)

  5. Graham said on November 15, 2016 at 2:16 am

    Hey, Kaspersky: Make a third-party AV software that’s actually better than Windows Defender, then we’ll talk.

    Until then, shut the hell up. People use WD for its convenience. It’s free, not bloated, and it doesn’t slow down our systems.

    It’s just like Google. People use it not because it’s anti-competitive, but because it really is the best. Why would you settle for something worse?

    1. Mikhoul said on November 16, 2016 at 11:50 pm

      Humm you talking lot over your head… http://i.imgur.com/A3JhtKJ.png

  6. Peter said on November 14, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    I am happy with Win Defender as I am with Win 10 in general, low impact on my system and just gets on with things unobtrusively. I just combine it with weekly scans using the free Versions of Malwarebytes and Superantispyware plus a regularly updated version of Spywareblaster plus a little common sense! I’ve used third party AV in the past notably Norton and Kaspersky but see no reason to do so again.

  7. RPWheeler said on November 14, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    Again and again it’s about one and the same: is it my personal PC, or is it PC controlled by MS, which “phones home”, pushes on me ads, pushes on me updates I didn’t request and decides what to install or uninstall.

    That’s one more reason to stay away from Windows 10 for as long as you can. Because of its incompatibility with “personal computer” concept and principles.

    1. John said on November 15, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      Eh, a lot of those “phone home” crap has been pushed into windows 7 and 8.x updates as well…

      1. Corky said on November 15, 2016 at 6:34 pm

        I think a better word would be offered as unlike Windows 10 previous version could pick and choose what updates were installed, of course that’s all over since Microsoft decided to force this new way of updating Windows (cumulative updates) on everyone.

  8. EuroScept1C said on November 14, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    I don’t care at all. I’ve to use an anti-virus since the XP virus that forced Windows shut down after 30 secs. Never again any anti-virus. Even Defender which uses a lot of CPU for every file even on browser no matter what.

    1. John said on November 15, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      pretty dumb imo. Those computers without tend to be the most infected ones in my experience.

  9. Maelish said on November 14, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    Microsoft has a history of anti-competitive behavior, no one should be surprised.

  10. Micky said on November 14, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Its obviously true. Microsoft is using its position to gain an advantage over 3rd party sotware and push its own App Store products.

    A lesson in how not to run a business – alienate your customers and developers.

  11. ononono said on November 14, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    never understood why insider program isn’t enough to get a decent headstart towards compatibility. similar things apply to firefox 64 bit. kaspersky keeps claiming it’s not released on stable, but so what? they have nightly and other branches that can be worked on (and that was before there’s an official stable version). also baffles me why firefox 32 and firefox 64 are not given as separate options in kas. or why there’s no support for opera. or no simple upgrade options within the program from 1 version to another (have to download separate installer…)

    that said, some of the more specific claims have merits (something about having 2 3rd party a/v with one of them a trial version)

    1. Corky said on November 14, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      Because Microsoft makes changes between what’s released to the insiders and what’s released to the customer, the insiders are Alpha testers and paying customers are beta testers, it’s not until releases reach the Current Branch for Business (CBB) and/or the Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) that Windows 10 resembles the relatively static code base of days gone by.

      1. Mikhoul said on November 16, 2016 at 11:47 pm

        “the insiders are Alpha testers and paying customers are beta testers,”

        Exactly 👍👍👍

  12. Corky said on November 14, 2016 at 10:51 am

    It’s not just the deactivating installed third-party antivirus solutions, it’s also the reduction in time that Microsoft allows for compatibility testing.


    “Microsoft” cut down significantly the period for adapting compatibility of antivirus software developed by third parties for the Windows 10 operational system: from 2 months to 6 calendar days.

  13. wonton said on November 14, 2016 at 8:52 am

    they need to do one about ms reseting user preferences every update

    1. anon said on November 14, 2016 at 5:16 pm

      They have already fixed that in build 14926, at least when it comes to the apps.

    2. kalmly said on November 14, 2016 at 4:35 pm

      Yep. MS has come to hate user preferences. These days it offers few and reverses those few at will.

  14. mk said on November 14, 2016 at 7:39 am

    I mean, didnt they have to do this with Browsers in EU?
    I don’t see why this shouldn’t be a thing as well.

    1. anon said on November 14, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      The browser ballot screen hasn’t been a thing in years. It never worked anyway.

      The argument is bogus. Windows Defender is disabled whenever third-party antimalware is installed and can be disabled manually by the user anyway.

  15. David Boucher said on November 14, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Hey, third party anti-virus makers? Stop whining, shut up and slim down your programs; stop bloating up our systems with popups and ‘everything and the kitchen sink’; then maybe we’ll reinstall your programs that you think are so much better than Windows Defender.

    1. seeprime said on November 14, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      They’re all better than defender according to Av-Comparatives September 2016 testing. Sort by Value, instead of Vendor to see performance results: https://chart.av-comparatives.org/chart1.php

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