Inclusion of Microsoft Security Essentials in Windows Update angers antivirus rivals
Two security firms are threatening to lodge a complaint with the EU over Microsoft's decision to include free antivirus software in Windows Update.
Microsoft Security Essentials has been available as a free download for over a year, but recently Microsoft decided to include the software in Windows Update. The free antivirus package is only offered to customers who don't already have security software installed on their PC.
That measure hasn't been enough to placate security firms Panda and Trend Micro, who are planning to take action against Microsoft.
"This will end up in action taken, especially in Europe," Panda chief executive Juan Santana told CNet.com. "We will monitor the situation".
The company expands on its complaint on the Panda Research blog. "We agree with Microsoft; it’s better to have some protection than not having any at all. That’s why we encourage Microsoft to continue using Windows/Microsoft Update but instead to push all free antivirus products available on the market, not just MSE."
Speaking to us, PandaLab's technical director Luis Corrons has now called for Windows users to be given a choice of security software.
"We think this is not fair," said Corrons, referring to the inclusion of Microsoft Security Essentials in Windows Update. "It is trying, somehow, to bundle the software it develops and take out competitors.
"A single solution is a security nightmare," he continued. "If all of us have the same security software, that makes it easier for the bad guys."
Corrons claimed a ballot similar to the browser choice screen would be a fairer solution. "There should be a list of a number of security software packages out there - including Microsoft, of course - and then let the user make the choice," he said.
Microsoft was forced to implement the browser ballot after rival Opera complained to the European Union about the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows. Corrons said Panda is considering a similar complaint in regards to Microsoft Security Essentials. "We've not taken that decision yet," he said.
Meanwhile, in a separate interview with ComputerWorld, Trend Micro has accused Microsoft of distorting the security market. "Commercialising Windows Update to distribute other software applications raises significant questions about unfair competition," said Carol Carpenter, the general manager of the consumer and small business group at Trend Micro.
"Windows Update is a de facto extension of Windows, so to begin delivering software tied to updates has us concerned. Windows Update is not a choice for users, and we believe it should not be used this way."
The security firms may be spurred on by Opera's successful complaint to the EU about Microsoft's bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows. Microsoft has subsequently been forced to offer Windows customers a choice of browsers if they don't already have an alternative to Internet Explorer installed.
Microsoft was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.