Good Luck Microsoft: Russian antitrust authorities to rule on Kaspersky complaint soon

Kaspersky has been running a battle against Microsoft’s free Windows Defender software since last year, and that included making an official complaint to the European, German and Russian antitrust authorities.

Eugene Kaspersky, of the eponymous company, made some specific complaint, saying Microsoft automatically turned Windows Defender on when a 3rd party antivirus subscription expired. He also complained that Windows 10 updates sometimes cause Kaspersky to disappear from users’ PCs. Windows 10 then automatically turns on Windows Defender, claiming that the Kaspersky anti-virus “doesn’t work on this version of Windows. Kaspersky complained that independent software developers were given just seven days before the release of Windows 10 to make their software compatible with the new operating system, leaving too little time to make sure their application was compatible.

In a blog post, penned by Rob Lefferts, Partner Director,  Security & Enterprise, Windows & Devices Group, Microsoft did not deny these actions, but denied any malicious intent, saying their drive was to make Window 10 the safest and most secure version of Windows ever.

Microsoft said they believed in “always on” protection and noted that they allowed antivirus companies to notify users multiple times when their subscription was due to expire, but when the user consciously allowed it to lapse their priority was to ensure the safety of a user and their PC, which meant automatically activating Windows Defender.

Microsoft also admitted to sometimes uninstalling 3rd party antivirus software, but only when the software was not compatible, saying 95% of applications were. Microsoft noted that through the Insider program they gave developers plenty of opportunities to test their applications to ensure they were compatible.

The Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) has already issued a warning to Microsoft in June about “the unacceptability of setting up a discriminatory environment on the antivirus market,” and will issue their final decision on the 15th August.

“Yes, [the final decision will be made on August 15.] The nine-month processing period will be almost over at that point, and we try not to run over the processing time line,” said Elena Zaeva, the Head of FAS Department for Regulation of Communications and Information Technologies, when asked about the date of the final verdict.

While in the current tense political environment Microsoft would not generally be expected to get a fair hearing in Russia, Zaeva said Microsoft was working with the FAS to meet their requirements, and just needed more time to clarify certain aspects.

In contrast, Kaspersky has just been removed from the US governments approved vendors list after concerns were raised that the software provided by the vendor could allow the Kremlin access to the US government’s secure computer systems

“In our opinion, the company is moving in the right direction, the most important thing for us is to ensure the competition as soon as possible. The markets are changing fast, the situation in the digital economy, too, so the sooner the anti-monopoly service requirements are fulfilled, the better,” Zaeva said.

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