MICROSOFT HAS admitted that, yes, it is guilty of deactivating third party anti-virus software, following a complaint from Kaspersky.
Last month, Kaspersky founder Eugene Kaspersky wrote a scathing blog, heralding an antitrust complaint to the European Commission (EC), questioning Microsoft's potential abuse of its place in the market.
It's not the first time European chiefs have had to slap Microsoft into line. Until 2014, European Windows users were offered a choice of browser during Windows installation, as it was felt that Microsoft had too much power with Internet Explorer.
In an unusually honest blog post, Microsoft's Rob Lefferts explains: "We built Windows Defender Antivirus to make a promise to our customers that every Windows 10 device always has protection from viruses and malware... our test results are among the top of security industry leaders, including recent real-world testing where Windows Defender Antivirus scored over 99 per cent detection rates"
The post goes on to admit that, yes, it does deactivate third party AV, if there is a risk of an update to Windows that stops the AV working anyway.
"To do this, we first temporarily disabled some parts of the AV software when the update began. We did this work in partnership with the AV partner to specify which versions of their software are compatible and where to direct customers after updating," Lefferts said.
A recent example of this is the Creators Update, which has been rolling out to consumers in a much slower fashion than we all expected (or "on time" if you're Microsoft) and although compatible with 95 percent of AV, there have been some problems and it is in those cases that Windows Defender is primed to take over.
As yet it's not clear if this is satisfactory for either Mr Kaspersky or the EC, as it only seems to partly answer the accusations. For a start, Microsoft says it "briefly" turns off third party AV. The suggestion seems to be that the AV goes off and stays off, with Windows Defender shoulder barging its way in, and if that's the case, we suspect there'll be a lot more to say on the matter. µ
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