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Microsoft Fires Back At Kaspersky AV Antitrust Allegations

Microsoft has responded publicly to Kaspersky's antitrust allegations that hit at the way Microsoft deals with third-party anti-virus offerings.

After months of jabs from Kaspersky accusing Microsoft of antitrust behavior in the anti-virus software market, the software giant has fired back in a blog post denying the allegations and saying security is a priority.

"We remain ever vigilant in our conviction to make Windows 10 the safest and most secure OS platform ever and earn our consumers' trust every day. To do that we will support a vibrant ecosystem of security solutions," Rob Lefferts, partner director, Windows & Devices Group, Security & Enterprise, said in the blog post.

The post did not mention Kaspersky by name, but it comes shortly after allegations by the anti-virus company that Microsoft used its position as a dominant software vendor to edge out third party anti-virus companies.

[Related: Kaspersky Takes Aim At Microsoft, Alleging Antitrust Violations Around Anti-Virus And Windows 10 Updates]

Kaspersky filed an antitrust complaint in June over the issue, arguing that Microsoft didn't give it enough time to make its software compatible with Windows 10, automatically deactivated third-party anti-virus software for its own Windows Defender solution. That action, Kaspersky said, limited the number of anti-virus offerings on a PC, and urged customers to replace third-party solutions with Windows Defender, among other claims.

In its blog post on Tuesday, Microsoft said its Windows Defender anti-virus solution runs on all Windows 10 machines but does not run periodic scans if a user has a third-party anti-virus solution. It said the software is automatically turned on if a customer's third-party anti-virus solution license expires. The blog post also noted that Microsoft has "worked closely" with anti-virus companies to provide them with upcoming changes, early builds, testing environments, and technical guidance through a variety of programs. Microsoft said it has "doubled down on our efforts to help AV vendors be compatible with the latest updates."

"Microsoft has actively engaged for more than 20 years with our anti-virus ecosystem partners around the world to protect Windows users in the face of evolving cyber threats. We look forward to continued collaboration with these partners toward our mutual goal of protecting customers," Lefferts said in the blog post.

Kaspersky did not return requests for comment on the blog post.

The concerns from Kaspersky come as Microsoft builds on its security portfolio, including making acquisitions and rolling out "enterprise-level security" changes to its new Windows 10 operating system. CEO Satya Nadella has called cybersecurity the "most pressing issue of our time." The company announced plans to funnel $1 billion into security research and development. Most recently, Microsoft announced plans to acquire security automation and orchestration company Hexadite.

Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of LAN Infotech, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Microsoft partner, said it is hard to tell which vendor's claims are true, but that third party security vendors are a key piece of the security ecosystem. He said it was good to see Microsoft continue to engage with third-party anti-virus vendors, as it is "another layer that's built in" to the operating system.

"I think clients will always be a big driving force for third-party security … It's good to see they are thinking with that [in mind]," Goldstein said. "It's important that they lay that map for third-party companies."

Goldstein cheered Microsoft's investments in security, saying "security is high on my list" as a partner. "They have made tremendous strides over time … They don't want to leave anything on the table," Goldstein said.

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