Software

Windows 10: Microsoft faces Russian probe over claim it pushes Windows Defender on users

Russian competition authority investigates whether Windows 10 gives Microsoft an "unreasonable advantage" in the security software market.

eugene-kaspersky.jpg

Eugene Kaspersky says 'our companies need to be fighting cybercriminals together instead of fighting each other'.

Image: Max Avdeev

Russian regulators are investigating allegations that Windows 10 unduly favors Microsoft's own Windows Defender over competing anti-virus software.

Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service has launched an investigation into whether Microsoft has abused its dominant position in the PC operating system market, following a complaint by Russian security company Kaspersky Lab.

The FAS will look into allegations that Microsoft has reduced the period given to developers of third-party security software to run compatibility tests against future updates to the OS.

SEE: Windows 10: The smart person's guide

Kaspersky is calling on regulators to force Microsoft to "provide new versions and updates of Windows to independent developers in good time so they can maintain compatibility of their software to Windows".

While the allegations are that this testing period has been reduced to days, the complaint doesn't detail why developers can't test their applications against early builds of Windows released under the Windows Insiders program, which are often released months in advance of being pushed to end users. One counterpoint could be that software that runs on early builds of Windows 10 released under the Windows Insider program won't necessarily be compatible with the build released to end users.

The CEO of Kaspersky Lab also complained to the FAS about Windows 10's practice of uninstalling unsupported anti-virus software and setting Microsoft's Windows Defender as the system default if a user upgrades to Windows 10 from an older OS. He wants Windows to notify users that unsupported third-party software will be uninstalled before the upgrade takes place and to recommend compatible versions of third-party software after the upgrade.

"Users have the right to choose the best; freedom of choice enables the development of competition; and competition leads to technical progress. We intend to fight for such freedom, even if we have to do so alone," says Kaspersky in an online post, where he mentions filing a similar complaint with EU regulators.

Explaining why the FAS was looking into the complaint that Microsoft has violated Part 1 Article 10 of Russian Federal Law 'On Protection of Competition', deputy head of FAS Anatoly Golomolzin said: "Since "Microsoft" itself develops antivirus software - Windows Defender that switches on automatically if third-party software fails to adapt to Windows 10 in due time, such actions lead to unreasonable advantages for "Microsoft" on the software market. Our task is to ensure equal conditions for all participants on this market."

"Microsoft is committed to work in full compliance with Russian law. The company hasn't received an official notification from FAS. As soon as we get it, we will review it carefully," said a Microsoft spokesperson.

Microsoft has previously faced criticism for Windows 10 changing the default browser to Microsoft Edge when users upgrade to the OS.

The US tech giant could also fall foul of a law introduced in Russia earlier this year that prohibits government departments from buying software and services from foreign providers when there is a viable Russian alternative available.

To this end, Moscow City Hall has announced it will transfer employee email from Microsoft Exchange Server and Outlook to the Russian-built MyOffice Mail and is considering shifting as many as 600,000 PCs and servers away from Microsoft. Microsoft had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

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About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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