Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Kaspersky Accuses Microsoft Of Anti-Competitive Practices

Eugene Kaspersky, the co-founder and CEO of Russian security software company Kaspersky Lab, has accused software giant Microsoft of anti-competitive practices and endangering computer security with its attitudes to anti-virus software.

In a blog post entitled That’s It. I’ve Had Enough! Kaspersky likened the fight to that between David and Goliath, but with the Microsoft Goliath „squeezing independent developers out of specialist areas – and announced plans to push for an investigation into the company’s business practices.

Kaspersky isn’t exactly the first software entrepreneur to accuse Microsoft of unfair competition. The EU only recently finally lifted a sanction that forced Microsoft to offer a choice of browsers to end the dominance of its own Internet Explorer. Or the invention of Windows Live Essentials as a way to offer the firm’s bundleware as a separate suite of programs instead.

Users of Windows 10 have been complaining that the system is changing settings, uninstalling user-installed apps and replacing them with standard Microsoft ones. A similar thing’s been happening with security products, wrote Kaspersky.

He accused Microsoft of giving third parties as little notice as possible (one week) to start preparing for changes to Windows 10, and then blocking any incompatibilities in favour of its own Windows Defender, which has gone from being a backstop, to being the de facto and, if Microsoft is to be believed, only security tool Windows 10 users need.

Kaspersky went on to talk about alarming pop-ups that are created if Windows 10 detects Windows Defender is off, even saying that a third-party solution is unnecessary and actively shouldn’t be on. A second antivirus solution is allowed, but only if it’s Windows Defender.

He also accused Microsoft of not offering sufficient ability for third parties to warn customers if their coverage has expired, instead opting to turn on Defender.

Kaspersky pointed out that Windows Defender hasn’t tested well compared with other antivirus packages, and is considered “below average” in terms of effectiveness and features.

The trend is clear. Microsoft is gradually squeezing independent developers out of the Windows ecosystem if it has its own application for this or that purpose,“ he said.

In doing so, Microsoft is acting against the interests of users since a lot of its products are of inferior quality. Browsers, gaming hubs, image viewing, processing of multimedia files and PDF documents, cyber security and many others are already suffering from this and, as a consequence, so are users.

And it looks like this is only the beginning. What’ll be next in the firing line? Virtual machines? Cloud services?

An embedded video from an internal Microsoft training film appears to back up Kaspersky’s claims. It shows a Redmond adviser stating: I want you to think about kicking out the third-party antivirus because we’ve got a great solution right now and it’s going to be even better in the months to come.

Kaspersky believes that, despite repeatedly failing to create a workable antivirus product (remember Windows Security Essentials? OneCare?) investors are pressuring the company to get the numbers up, hence all the Windows 10 pop-ups.

We think that Microsoft has been using its dominating position in the market of operating systems to create competitive advantages for its own products, he said.

The company is foisting its Defender on the user, which isn’t beneficial from the point of view of protection of a computer against cyber attacks. The company is also creating obstacles for companies to access the market and infringes on the interests of independent developers of security products.

Therefore, we’ve taken the decision to address official bodies in various countries (including the EU and Russia ) with a request to oblige Microsoft to cease its violation of anti-competition legislation and to remove the consequences of that violation.