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Kaspersky Lab Ending Microsoft Antitrust Complaints

Kaspersky Lab announced today that it is ending its recent antitrust complaints against Microsoft.

The Moscow-based antimalware software vendor had contended that Windows 10 was encumbering "third-party" antimalware software products, and was favoring Microsoft's own in-built Windows Defender solution. For instance, some Windows 10 versions will disable antimalware solutions, replacing them with Windows Defender, if the operating system finds them incompatible in some way. Microsoft viewed it as a protection mechanism for Window 10 users, while Kaspersky Lab saw it as an anticompetitive threat.

Kaspersky Lab had lodged complaints to that effect before the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia, Germany's Federal Cartel Office and the European Commission. It's currently in the process of dropping the latter two complaints, and it indicated in an announcement today that "all of its concerns regarding the unfair competition law, raised with the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia, have been addressed."

Microsoft Responds
Microsoft, for its part, issued an announcement today that it has been making changes to Windows 10 releases that reflects recent dialog that it's been having with its antivirus partners, including Kaspersky Lab. Rob Lefferts, Microsoft's partner director for Windows enterprise and security, outlined some of those changes.

Lefferts indicated that Microsoft will work with antivirus partners more closely to address compatibility issues before Windows 10 updates get rolled out to customers. It will increase the time that antivirus partners will have to complete Windows 10 build reviews. Antivirus partners will be able to use their own alerts to notify users when subscriptions are expiring, and these alerts can appear both before and after the subscription end dates. Moreover, these alerts will persist on the screen until users renew or choose another antimalware solution.

Kaspersky Lab, in a blog post today, noted that Microsoft had addressed its complaints "completely." It looked forward to the changes coming in the Windows 10 fall creators update. For instance, Microsoft will no longer use Windows 10's fast-disappearing pop-up "toast" notification process to warn users about expiring antimalware subscriptions, it noted.

In independent antivirus tests, Kaspersky Lab's software has consistently been one of the frontrunners, while Windows Defender, formerly known as "Microsoft Security Essentials," has tended to be lower on the lists. The differences have evened out somewhat for Windows Defender, perhaps, at least based on AV-Test's June Windows 10 test results.

Recently, a Microsoft official had suggested that Windows Defender was good enough such that individuals and organization can "start kicking out third-party antivirus" solutions from Windows 10. That statement had raised the ire of Eugene Kaspersky, chairman and CEO of Kaspersky Lab, who noted it in a June 6 blog post. Possibly, that's still Microsoft's position, despite the efforts announced today that seem to be smoothing over matters with antivirus partners.

Kaspersky Free
In July, Kaspersky Lab announced the release a free version of its antivirus solution for Windows systems called "Kaspersky Free," although it lacks the "more robust features" found in Kaspersky Total Security, Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Anti-Virus. The free version, which provides basic "file antivirus, e-mail antivirus, and Web antivirus" protections, was launched to get more information for Kaspersky Lab's cloud service, called the "Kaspersky Security Network," the company explained in a blog post. Kaspersky Free doesn't collect personal data and it doesn't push ads, the blog added.

Kaspersky Lab lately has been beset by U.S. political wrangling, with some members of Congress questioning its ties to the Russian government and intelligence agencies and conducting government probes on the issue. That position was outlined in this Bloomberg story. Eugene Kaspersky responded in a blog post that Kaspersky Lab is a global company, and that it doesn't have ties to any government.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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