Microsoft Agrees To Windows 10 Update Changes After Kaspersky Lab AV Antitrust Allegations

After months of back and forth between the two companies over their respective anti-virus offerings, Microsoft and Kaspersky Lab have come to an agreement.

The two companies announced in independent blog posts this week that Microsoft has agreed to make changes to its Windows 10 Fall Creators update to satisfy allegations by Kaspersky that some of the company's operating system updates were edging out third-party anti-virus companies.

In a blog post, Microsoft's Partner Director for Windows Enterprise and Security, Rob Lefferts, said Microsoft would make changes to its upcoming update to include giving third-party AV vendors earlier access and visibility into upcoming feature updates to ready their software, enable AV vendors to use their own alerts and notifications for expired or expiring product licenses, and providing more persistent notifications for users to renew their existing AV solution before it defaults to Windows Defender.

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"We believe in a healthy antivirus ecosystem working with us in protecting our shared customers from security threats. Our top priority is and always will be to protect our customers with security innovations for the Windows platform, increase our customers' pre- and post-breach security stance, and provide a platform that offers choice," Lefferts said in the blog post. "Part of delivering on that commitment is listening and responding to the feedback from our customers and partners … I'm pleased to share these discussions have helped us clarify our roadmap and implementation plans."

The changes come after months of allegations from Kaspersky over antitrust violations by Microsoft around the anti-virus market. 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 own blog post about the agreement, Kaspersky Vice President of Consumer Products Andrei Mochola said the company was pleased with the resolution. He said partnerships between companies, especially operating system software vendors, are critical to fighting back against cyberattacks

"The market has to be diverse to ensure that cybercriminals don't only have to try to elude a single security solution. So, partnerships and diversity go hand in hand," Mochola said. "We are grateful Microsoft is addressing these issues completely, making sure that both partnerships and diversity are preserved on the market for both user and industry benefit."

Mochola said Kaspersky has a "long history of cooperation with Microsoft" and is "satisfied with the changes" the company will make in its upcoming update.

Michael Knight, president and CTO at Encore Technology Group, a Greenville, S.C.-based Kaspersky partner, said it is good to see the two vendors "mend the fences" they can, especially in the face of growing cybersecurity threats around ransomware.

"I think that they have decided that partnering where you can versus trying to get the crown jewels is probably a better scenario," Knight said. It's far better to partner where possible than to disagree on certain points."