I’m sure many of you would have heard of free software programs that scan computers for various errors, and then use alarming messages to scare innocent users into buying a premium version of the software to fix those errors. Microsoft has finally decided that these cleaner or optimizer applications are problematic because they pressure customers into making unnecessary purchase. Microsoft yesterday announced that they have updated their malware evaluation criteria to include such software programs. This means that software that display coercive messaging will be classified as unwanted software and it will be removed by Microsoft’s security tools like Windows Defender Antivirus.
Here’s what Microsoft’s has updated in its evaluation criteria,
Unwanted behaviors: coercive messaging
Programs must not display alarming or coercive messages or misleading content to pressure you into paying for additional services or performing superfluous actions.
Software that coerces users may display the following characteristics, among others:
- Reports errors in an exaggerated or alarming manner about the user’s system and requires the user to pay for fixing the errors or issues monetarily or by performing other actions such as taking a survey, downloading a file, signing up for a newsletter, etc.
- Suggests that no other actions will correct the reported errors or issues
- Requires the user to act within a limited period of time to get the purported issue resolved
From March 1st, Microsoft’s security programs including Windows Defender Antivirus will remove software that display coercive messages. Developers can validate the detection of their programs through Windows Defender Security Intelligence portal. If you come across any such software, you can submit it to Microsoft for evaluation.