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Kaspersky files antitrust complaint against Microsoft in Europe over Windows Defender

Updated June 6, 2017: Updated with a statement from Microsoft on the matter.

Original Story: Kaspersky Lab has moved to file an antitrust complaint against Microsoft in Europe over what it sees as unfair practices to promote Windows Defender over competing products in Windows 10. In a blog post (opens in new tab), co-founder of the Russian firm, Eugene Kaspersky, lays out several complaints that, he says, highlight "questionable tactics" on Microsoft's part to give its own antivirus solution an unfair advantage (via The Verge).

From Kaspersky:

We see clearly – and are ready to prove – that Microsoft uses its dominant position in the computer operating system (OS) market to fiercely promote its own – inferior – security software (Windows Defender) at the expense of users' previously self-chosen security solution. Such promotion is conducted using questionable methods, and we want to bring these methods to the attention of the anti-competition authorities.

Kaspersky's complaints include accusations that Microsoft removes its software from users' PCs when they upgrade to Windows 10, turning to Windows Defender in its place. The stated reason is compatibility issues, but Kaspersky claims Microsoft doesn't afford third-party antivirus developers enough time with an update's RTM release to update their software ahead of a broad rollout.

In its complaint, Kaspersky says it is seeking to stop Microsoft from "misleading and misinforming" users in order to keep security software "on a level playing field" on the Windows Platform.

For its part, a Microsoft spokesperson reached out to Windows Central with the following statement:

Microsoft's primary objective is to keep customers protected and we are confident that the security features of Windows 10 comply with competition laws. We're always interested in feedback from other companies and we engage deeply with antimalware vendors and have taken a number of steps to address their feedback. We reached out directly to Kaspersky a number of months ago offering to meet directly at an executive level to better understand their concerns, but that meeting has not yet taken place.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.

93 Comments
  • That's weird. Isn't it common for every company to promote their own products, whatever it may be. Google promoting Chrome, Apple siri, etc. Do companies have no right to advertise their own product (defender)on their own product(w10)?
  • They are still living in the past.
  • They have. This is probably going nowhere.
  • Everyone except for Microsoft is allowed to do so
  • No, Microsoft can, does and will do so as well. The only one that ever had a problem with it was the European Union and that was only because Windows was a monopoly for OS'. That's not the case anymore.
  • ..... it was a joke.....
  • Everyone complains about Windows having the worst history when it comes to virus and malware. When Microsoft does an amazing job at protecting people the lazy fools that don't want to innovate run to the government to cry that they're not getting a fair shake. I hope the EU will finally see through this bullsh*t and through this out faster than Brexit. If not, microsoft needs to take this fight to the people that use their products and get them to decide.
  • There's nothing stopping anyone from using a different or additional virus protection program. Right now I don't think I'd be jumping on board to use any software from a Russian company. ;-)
  • Who would know how to defend against Russian hackers better? You watch too much CNN.
  • AHHHHHH it all makes sense now...your remarks and comments....Hey bebo...I guess you voted for the orange messiah did'nt you!
  • @Steve Adams, no I didn't vote for anybody and I have never voted in my life. Why should I? It doesn't matter who you vote for or which party wins, nothing changes. They are all paid by the same people who tell them what to do. I have been living in Moscow Russia for the last 21 years and I think I know more about it than most Americans and I can tell you it's all lies. Life here is good, and the women are HOT!
  • Yeah, right! You'd better stick to your FOX News, Breitbart and InfoWars with their super duper bigly 'REAL News' :p The rest of us sain people will stick to the 'fake news' of the MSNBC's and CNN's of the world ^^, silly us ;-)
  • CNN is real news? You got to be joking. Look I don't watch TV and haven't for more than 20 years. The only thing that comes out of that thing is brain washing. It's to sell you something.
  • Sorry little fella but Fox News, despite its flaws, is superior to CNN/MSNBC/etc. CNN outright fabricates stories and present false narratives. It's tragic, really, because you've been sucked in and aren't smart enough to watch a bit of everything like you should.
  • News Flash: All American media companies are trash and their favorite thing to sell is fear.
  • "Fox News is superior" XD
  • What wait, you really dare to say that FOX News issnt creating a false narrative? Like WHAT THE F*CK?!
  • They are certainly less overtly biased, one sided, and PC than CNN. I barely watch television news anyways. In fact I get bitchy when I see it so it's pretty much banned in my house. I'm just over it.    Go go find the truth on YouTube. MSM and broadcasting is too polarized and regulated to get an accurate picture of any situation. 
  • I also am a frequent viewer on TYT on YT ^^
  • Because American companies are more trustworthy? Please...
    If we went by trustworthy based on nationality we should only use software from Nordic countries or Switzerland.
  • @DJCBS, ain't that the truth 😀
  • Those countries rarely invent much and rely on the US for good things.
  • The problem is people are lazy and if they think that they are being protected by defender they will not go out to find something better and there are better security software out there than defender.  As for using software from Russia, while i do agree with you, we all use software from the U.S.A and who can say we can trust that country? the U.s have proved time and time again they do not give a monkeys about privacy, you only have to look at windows 10.  
  • Actually, I haven't had a television in over 19 years. If I am somewhere and the TV is on, the last thing I want to do is waste one second of my life watching the B.S. that is called "news" nowadays. Your first sentence in your reply would have been good enough. The second sentence brought on incorrect judgment and the rash of negative comments that follow. I'm not here to debate politics, and my comment about Russia was meant as a tongue in cheek kind of thing. Peace and chill everyone - it's going to be a long, hot summer.  :-)
  • Google is the absolute worse offender. Cannot use google.com or youtube.com without CONSTANT HARRASSMENT with HUGE banners at the top recommending me to use chrome. f*** off google i don't want to use your s*** argh! The google spam of self-promoting banners on google.com is probably a bigger monopoly than MSFT does with Windows. It is downright dirty and is probably a huge reason why chrome continues to increase in marketshare. For those who don't want to see those google ads - use ublock origin and right-click and "block element" - works well! (you may have to do it a few times across different pages like news.google.com etc)
  • When he complains about not having enough time to test his software on the latest builds is the funniest part about all of this. What a tool. No one is unable to install a third party anti-virus solution and most nerds would suggest you do anyways.
  • He's not registered ® to the insider program.
  • A software company? A software company who has an quite pricey products? Didn't opt in to insider progam? Please tell me it's a joke....
  • aren't antiviruses supposed to react fast to new things? If the company cannot keep pace with the insider slow ring (never mind release preview) how can i trust it to keep pace with new viruses as they appear??
  • Doesn't MS roll out insider previews to everyone who wants, before RTM
  • I want Microsoft to provide a secure and safe operating system. Defender should be developed by Microsoft to be second to none. The whole idea of third party anti virus just seems wrong to me. It's not like Microsoft should be thinking, "Let's make an unsafe operating system and leave it up to others to fix our product." This is a different world, it's not the 90's anymore. Third party anti virus in this day and age would be like purchasing a car, but it doesn't come with a motor. You'd need to buy a third party motor which may or may not match OEM quality, fit, and finish. Security measures need to be a core part of an OS, not a hole waiting to be filled by a third party.
  • Could not agree more. While he's at it, he should complain about Apple to the anti-trust regulators by saying something like "their operating system is too secure for us to make any impact" (i don't know any mac users who use a third party AV). If anything, like you say, MSFT should make their operating system so bullet-proof that third party AV is not required.
  • Eh, when I buy a front door, it's true I want it to be safe. But I don't think every front door in existence needs to come with every lock and bolt imaginable. Moreover, I don't think most doors even should. If you want the extra security, it should be "extra" and not built in. I think Windows Defender should be a best-effort, but I don't think they should have to poor extra money into becoming something they're not. And Apple is about as secure as Windows, if not less so. I'm fairly certain the problem there is simply not being able to market against them and if they did, Apple would probably make their lives extremely difficult.
  • Agree 100%
  • Total in agreement! If cars, trucks, bicycles come with breaks why can't Microsoft come with OS protection for their product. This has no merit...
  • As much as everyone thinks it would be best for Microsoft to have the best software, third party software is always better as they spent more time and effort creating it and actually care about it. Microsoft will never get that serious about it.
  • i'm fine with that. Third-party anti-virus can focus 100% on anti-virus. It's literally impossible for Microsoft to do that. If they did so, their OS would simply fail from attrition. So I wouldn't say that its Microsoft not getting "serious" about it. I simply think its not Microsoft's job to be in every market related to an OS. Anti-virus is simply not a necessity to be built in. It absolutely should be modular. If I have a machine that doesn't go on a network at all, I don't want to end up paying extra because its protected from the latest viruses that it will never see.
  • Ummmm no? That is like the number one thing you should focus on when developing software. Security. Without security of the software then there is not much point to the software is there? Why would you not want a free anti-virus? And how are you paying for Defender? The upgrade to Windows 10 was free. And Defender has been then since Windows 7 (in a different form, I believe it was called Security Essentials and has always been free).
  • ::sigh::
    "Ummmm no? That is like the number one thing you should focus on when developing software. Security. Without security of the software then there is not much point to the software is there?"
    Number 1, yes. But 100%? No. So we're in agreement.
    "Why would you not want a free anti-virus? And how are you paying for Defender? The upgrade to Windows 10 was free. And Defender has been then since Windows 7 (in a different form, I believe it was called Security Essentials and has always been free)."
    Take things in context. I'm replying to a comment. I said I'm ok with Microsoft not putting in 100% in Defender because I'm fine with Defender. It's enough for all-purpose. If you want more, you can get more. Seriously, what are are we in disagreement with? Or were you simply taking my comment on its own and not in light of who I was replying to?
  • Ah! I must have misunderstood your post :) my apologies. I read it as being the exact opposite, when we are actually in agreement. I thought you were agreeing with Chippy up there. So apply my post to him.
  • Defender has been there since Windows XP. It's been over a decade since Microsoft started giving this away. The name and UI has changed, but it's basically the same product. 
  • Why is it impossible? Let's say that Kaspersky Lab has 50 developers. What difference would it make if Microsoft had its own security division with 50 people? Microsoft has plenty of teams who are working on different products. What makes u think they can't have 50 people to focus just on the security? In fact, that is common practice. Office guys at Microsoft are not working on Windows 10 development. Nor do they work with Azure services. Microsoft most likely has team that is working only on security aspect of Windows.
  • Well, first off, that's not the same as 100%. Secondly, Defender is built into the OS. So it's not done in a vacuum. And moreover, resources are more than just people. It's time and money. Yes, Microsoft can put more money into security. Literally *everyone* can, but its the law of diminishing returns. Plus, if they *did* do that, they'd just get sued for the same reason anyway, except now, they'd have less money because they put it into anti-virus. It's a market that won't go away. MS doesn't need to kill it. There's no need to reinvent the wheel. If third-party already does it better, there's no need to beat them at that game.
  • not really, the malware found in the past weeks was targetting old XP and Windows 7 unpatched machines, but it would be worst if hospitals and other places that use desktops didn't had Windows Defender. Not all Windows users are multi billion companies which can pay expensive antivirus licenses to McAffee or Norton or Kaspersky
  • No one is saying Defender should go away. I think many people are fine with them not putting in millions of dollars to make it second to none.
  • Kaspersky is good for old machines because they don't get updates. On Windows 10 I don't see the need.
  • Agreed...though I'd say the key is that third party software is more specialized, not always better. To draw an analogy, you go to Honda for a fully functional car. It has all the parts you need and they shouldn't leave you without doors and windows. If you want to bulletproof your car, you'd go to an auto shop that specializes in bulletproofing cars.  Kaspersky's argument is that its customers don't want to lose the bulletproofing when they upgrade their car. However, the question then becomes whether an "upgrade" is defined by making changes to the existing car, or getting the new model of car to replace it.
  • But there's nothing permitting you from getting that third party option.
  • Kaspersky is complaining about Windows upgrades uninstalling Kaspersky and turning on Defender instead. I'd be on K's side, but Windows only removes anti-virus that's incompatible and Kaspersky is *always* last to make compatible software, sometimes months after Windows released the update to the general public. So, I'm absolutely siding with MS on this.
  • @Ibp775; An that's in an absolute sense. If they are loosing sales why should Microsoft make up for their sales. That has to be the motive because they themselves are saying Defender is inferior then why are they suing and they can't prove Microsoft has shut off 3rd party products. Microsoft has the right to put protection in their OS base on history yet it's their product and removing it does not mean folks are going to Kasp.
  • This lawsuit seems so 1998.
  • Exactly what I was thinking ☺
  • I don't use any other software but the Defender. Why install others? They are not integrated into the OS as the inbuilt Defender. Plus, most of the others are too intruding into the experience. Constantly bugging you for things. I've used MacAfee, and that's what I'm using for an example.
  • McAfee and Kaspersky aren't top notch. It took forever for Kaspersky to update their small business suite to work with Anniversary update. I'm talking months. Not a single other mainstream competitor had that issue. McAfee is none to be resource heavy. I have not had good experiences with it. I'm sticking with Defender for right now.
  • Cry me a river. They should make their products better and less intrusive. Wow, an OS maker pushing their own products more than 3rd party. Go figure.
  • This complaint seems strange to me. Microsoft tries to change their image by trying to provide a safer more secure OS and someone tries to sue them. This person also says that it's inferior, how about you just provide your product and let it speak for themselves.
  • Yeah, that was a low blow. Why not wait for the hearing to specify the reasons why Windows Defender is "inferior"?
  • Could you imagine if any company had to wait for 3rd party software companies to "catch up" before launching a new version of an OS? The target schedule for the roll-out was no secret.
  • Kaspersky should focus on enterprise and cloud users, not on consumers.  I support Microsoft with having an antivirus for consumers, but for enterprise and cloud companies, Kaspersky should do their products well so they can compete against McAfee and Norton.
  • Die in a fire Kaspersky, your products are garbage and are just as likely to be the target for malware to compromise a system.
  • OS security is not equivalent to browser choice.  Microsoft working to harden the OS and provide minimum levels of antivirus function in their product and bringing attention to OS security issues to the user is neither "fiercely promoting" nor at the expense of competitor's produts.  Kapersky's complaint will not stand.
  • From the legal standpoint this complaint has very shaky ground to stand on. 1 - It's false that Windows removes software when upgraded. I use their antivírus on the SP3 which was upgraded from 8 to 10 to all the following upgrades and NEVER was it removed. 2 - Microsoft IS heavily promoting Windows Defender on Windows 10. That is true. However Windows 10 is NOT the most used version of Windows. And even on Windows 10 this complaint would only be valid for the people the paid for Windows 10. People who upgraded for free have received it at a service and since it was free Microsoft can allege that promotion of Windows Defender is just part of the "deal".
  • At one points, various Kaspersky products were removed, but only because they were incompatible. K didn't always release an update in time and in those cases, if you upgraded, it got uninstalled. I've seen it happen with Windows 10 Anniversary (this is going from Win10 Update to Win10 Anniversary). Kaspersky literally did not have a compatible product ready. So, I'm fine with MS uninstalling it. Other antivirus folks were fine and ready. And as long as you had the antivirus upgraded prior to Windows upgrading, you were alright.
  • The best comparison would be the issues Microsoft faced in Europe in regards to browsers back in the day. MS was accused of promoting their own broswer over others. Big difference here. AV is vital to the security of the device and therefore the user. Selling an OS without an active and built in AV would be like selling a car without seatbelts. Do they want MS to make Windows less active in security, hurting the reputation of the OS and therefore driving people to other OS's where Kaspersky doesn't have an AV at all?   This complaint is like a horse salesman complaining that roads are being converted to handle cars and not horses. Get with the times. 3rd party AV is going away.
  • The browser case was a ridiculous money grab. It's like taking that same car and not providing even the most basic sound systems. A browser has been required since the 90's and to Microsoft's credit, they've never stopped third parties from installing software.
    Before the case, Netscape was the popular browser and came bundled from many ISP's. Then Navigator became so bloated people had no choice but to switch to IE. Now, back to the car. What Microsoft is forced to do now, is cover the basic OEM stereo with a large warning and provide the tools to remove it. Not fair if you ask me.
    As for Kaspersky's claim, they've been around long enough to know what just about every other developer around the world knows, and that Microsoft provides them the OS before it's released so developers can be ready and make a buck. All these companies trying to put their hand in Microsofts pockets to become successful is getting old.
  • What makes me chuckle is that Kaspersky is upset that they do not have enough time with the RTM to produce a compatible version. We've used Kaspersky Endpoint Security here for years, and when Windows 8 came out, we _had_ to use Windows Defender because Kaspersky did not have a Windows 8-compatible update to KES. We waited _months_ for them to come out with a compatible version. What do they want Microsoft to do? Sit on RTM for 6 months because the can be arsed to do the appropriate updates and certify it?
  • especially when all other mainstream competitors had suites ready to go *prior* to release.
  • OKAY!! Didn't Microsoft do same with twitch when they forced beam(mixer) app to all Xbox users ??
    Grow up cry-babies ,this isn't netscape era.
  • Windows is secured at first install/startup with Defender, which is the right thing to do. It also re-activates if third party AV is not functioning, which is the right thing to do. If anyone wants a different AV there's nothing stopping them. Does Windows prevent installation of third party AV software? NO it doesn't. Windows 10 came with IE and Edge, but that hasn't stopped me installing Chrome and Firefox It's not upto MS to make third party software compatible, it's down to the developers of that software - keep up or be left behind
  • Not given enough time? That whole many months of previews and it still not enough? Now I do questioning their development process. I know they need to do many test to ensure their product quality. But if that long preview time window and still not enough time? Seriously?
  • Hey Kaspersky so your looking for some dough? Are sales dropping off...
  • Came here for the "Microsoft is God almighty, FU Kaspersky!!!!11" Wasn't disappointed
  • Shouldn't fly now. One, Windows is no longer the dominant OS, Android is, according to all reports. Two, Kaspersky shouldn't be rewarded for sitting on their ass while MS made huge back end security strides. Windows Defender has been bundled since W7, if it wasn't a problem then, why is it now... Because MS worked to make it better, it is called competition.
  • Lol, not enough time to upgrade their software? WTF were they doing for almost a year while the Redstone 2 insider program was going on?
  • Their "inferior"product...
    Hahaha at least these guys have a sense of humour.
    Thanks for the laugh.
  • Keep up or go home.
  • Screw Kaspersky.
  • A company being too dumb to convert to an insider preview based test and deployment cycle, being known for opening new holes in the OS, turning a blind eye on Russian malwares and behaving like a root kit should be the last to complain about "questionable tactics".
  • Paid for Kaspersky but was so frustrated with their tardiness to support updates and total lack of participation on insider that I didn't end up using it. I now pay for Malware bytes and use defender so I'm still paying for something complimentary to defender. I would have kept Kaspersky if they'd made any effort at all... Their fault
  • I wondered how long until one of the antivirus providers did this.... Microsoft seem to be making defender good enough that third party antiviruses in their current forms will become osolete. They need to improve, rather than start lawsuits
  • These companies have made a ton of money off the back of weaknesses in an operating system. Now Microsoft want to do something about it they cry foul. So the right response is for Microsoft to make Windows less secure to allow them to keep making money...? These companies need a new business plan!
  • I always felt like Microsoft should back down in regards to how it promotes Defender on their website claiming Windows 10 already comes protected etc. Which is true. But its definitely just there for the sake of them being able to say so. Because its not nearly as effective as third party solutions.
    So I can see where Kaspersky is coming from. But dude its not a big deal, everyone knows Defender sucks and all retailers push your products without even mentioning that Defender is a thing to their customers. Just update your software, RTM isn't the only prerelease version of Windows they release.
  • Defender is right up there with the rest these days. 98.8% zero day and 99.9% known malware blocking. That's above the industry average. https://www.av-test.org/en/antivirus/home-windows/windows-10/april-2017/...
  • thats interesting. I have many customers come in with pretty nasty infections. Most of them don't have any antivirus aside from Windows Defender or AVG. The people I sell Kaspersky to hardly come back with infection issues. And if they do they are nowhere near as bad as those using Defender/AVG or wahtever free alternative they found
  • I haven't installed 3ed party AV software since Win 8. Defender works great!
  • I haven't for a while either, and I've been fine. But not everyone knows how to stay safe online. Most normal people have issues
  • It has nothing to do with Defender versus 3rd party or even Windows. If a user purposely install a program, from an unknown source, despite the warning of Windows that it will change something in the OS and still go on, no antivirus can prevent this.
    I have only Defender (and Security Essentials) since W7 days almost 10 years ago and just never had any virus.
    I do not believe one bit that people would get a virus with Defender they would not with a 3rd party, that is just bull... Defender is perfect and honestly, I am not aware of anyone around me catching a virus on their Windows machine that update automatically and are up-to-date, with Defender im the background.
    Indeed, I do not understand how 3rd party antivirus is still a thing these days...
  • and kaspersky and webroot are both better at preventing that from happening. They'll at least tell you the installer is infected. Windows Defender just lets it happen, and THEN tells you your PC is infected... if it even detects that it is. (usually doesn't)
  • And how so? Again, if you are willingly choosing NOT to install from the Store, choosing to go ELSEWHERE than the site of the program developer, download and try to install a program from a UNKNOWN source, and then, when it prompts that it will CHANGE something in your system, you still ACCEPT, it is because you WANT to be infected. I have zero sympathy for this kind of behavior and believe me, Kaspersky will not prevent that either. Again, there is a reasons why the vast majority of people NEVER had any vrus or malware since years. And Windows S is a very good step to iPadify W10 which is perfect for most people.
  • right, but once installed, Kaskpersky will immediately find compromized files and quarantine them (webroot too but to a lesser extent).
    Scan a PC with Windows Defender and have it clean up whatever it finds. Now, have Kaspersky scan that same computer. Kaspersky is going to find infections that Windows Defender didn't find. And in some cases, find infections that Defender supposedly "cleaned up".
    >there is reasons why the vast majority of people NEVER had any virus or malware since years
    Boy I wish that were true.
    Or on second thought, I don't. Because then I'd be out of a job lmao
    You underestimate how gullible people are.
    >I have zero sympathy for..
    yeah I do too thats why I charge them what I charge. But thats not what this is about.
  • Same here. Have been using defender since XP. Never an issue. And I've used every version of Windows from 3.1 to 10. The only differences I've ever noticed between Kas, Norton and Defender is in cost. 
  • Other AntiVirus make you laptop or pc to delay the start screen. Also when you plug any pendrive the antivirus slow down your PC whereas their is no Problem with the Windows Defender
  • At work, our QuickBooks program crash periodically because of Kaspersky. Didn't happen with Trend Micro nor Defender. Jus sayin