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Windows News
Security firms blast Microsoft for free antivirus offer

Two security software makers are complaining about Microsoft using its update service to deliver its free antivirus software to Windows users who don't have such protection on their computers. No, it's not 1998. And we're talking about allowing customers to choose whether they want the software, rather than bundling a particular browser--say Internet Explorer--on Windows.

Microsoft began making its Security Essentials software available to customers through its Microsoft Update service as an optional download on November 1 for U.S. customers and October 19 for U.K. customers. It offers the download only to customers who do not have an antivirus solution that is detectable by Microsoft's Action Center.

"Despite the broad availability of anti-malware software, we still find that many consumer and small business PCs remain unprotected," the company said in a statement to CNET on Monday. By offering the free antivirus download, "we make it easy for those who want and know they need protection, but for whatever reason have not gotten around to installing it.

Now they can download the software when they perform their other system updates without having to search the Web or make a special trip to the store."

Who can argue with a company offering people a free download of security software if they want it? Trend Micro and Panda Security, that's who. Executives from both companies claim the move is anticompetitive because Microsoft is leveraging its update service that downloads software to millions of Windows computers to plant its own antivirus software on systems.

"This will end up in action taken, especially in Europe," Panda Chief Executive Juan Santana told CNET in an interview on Friday afternoon. He stopped short of saying that Panda would lodge an official complaint. "We will monitor the situation," he said.

"Commercializing Windows Update to distribute other software applications raises significant questions about unfair competition," Carol Carpenter, general manager of the consumer and small business group at Trend Micro, told Computerworld late last week. "Windows Update is a de facto extension of Windows, so to begin delivering software tied to updates has us concerned," she said.

"Windows Update is not a choice for users, and we believe it should not be used this way."

Full story: C|Net


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