Kaspersky Hits Microsoft With Antitrust Complaint In Europe For Disabling Antivirus Software

The folks at Kaspersky, one of the biggest antivirus companies on the planet, are not too pleased with Microsoft's recent Windows design cues. Last year, the company filed a complaint against the Redmond company with Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), and recently, it did the same thing in Europe. Any mention of Windows and "monopoly" make this complaint easy to figure out without even looking at it.

Kaspersky has a beef with how Microsoft promotes the use of its Defender antivirus / anti-malware app over third-party solutions. One issue in particular is how Windows acts as a bit of a roadblock when a third-party antivirus application is installed, giving a modest warning of "You should only run programs that come from publishers you trust". This complaint could be seen as a mild one considering Microsoft is good to warn people about installing anything and everything, but the issues extend well beyond that.

Kaspersky Antivirus Software
Kaspersky Anti-Virus

If Kaspersky's solution expires, Windows prevents the application from warning the user through traditional means; eg: a pop-up. Instead, the warning must go through the Action Center, which slides out from the right of the screen. Curiously, this limitation only seems to apply to antivirus applications, and considering most people are not paying attention to anything the Action Center says, that's a bit of a problem.

It gets worse. There are also instances where an upgrade of Windows will outright disable a third-party antivirus application. After the fresh install, a message will appear in the corner stating that the third-party solution was disabled due to incompatibilities (even if there are none), and that Windows Defender was enabled.

When the automatic disabling happens, the application remains visible in the Programs & Features section, which would undoubtedly lead to confusion for a great number of users ("Why isn't it working when it's clearly installed?!").

Microsoft Defender
Microsoft Defender

Companies like Kaspersky are not oblivious to the fact that a new Windows version is en route, and Microsoft itself doesn't hold back those versions from testers. Because of that, most are going to offer day-one support - so how do they wind up "incompatible"? It's simply because they need to be certified, something that's hard to accomplish when at least two months are needed following an RTM release. Long cycles like that used to be common, but not so much any more, putting developers like Kaspersky between a rock and a hard place.

Ultimately, all of these gotchas work out to the favor of Microsoft while putting its competition at a disadvantage. These third-party developers of course believe their solutions are better than Defender - and it's not hard to believe that to be true, given one is commercial, and one is bundled for free. Whatever the case, this will be interesting to see play out.