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Antitrust Case Against Microsoft over Security Essentials AV Would Be ‘Long Shot’ Says Expert

Security companies miffed at Microsoft for distributing Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus software through Windows’ update service should forget about calling in the lawyers, as “It would be a long shot at best,” said Hillard Sterling, of chances rivals could prevail in a civil suit based on antitrust charges. “It would be difficult if not impossible to show any anticompetitive impact,” added Sterling.

Starting Nov. 1, Microsoft began offering Security Essentials to PCs running XP, Vista and Windows 7 that lacked antivirus software.

Sterling said Trend hasn’t a legal leg to stand on.

“The [Security Essentials] download is optional, so there’s no barrier to competition here,” he said. “Other security products are readily available from a multitude of channels.”

Nor does Carpenter’s “market leverage” argument hold water, Sterling continued. “Microsoft may, in fact, have competitive leverage, but that’s a far cry form an antitrust violation,” he said. “Antitrust laws are designed to protect consumers, not competitors.”

Even in European Union, where Microsoft has faced much more aggressive antitrust regulators, Sterling doubted that antivirus rivals could make a case. “The EU has taken a stronger stand against Microsoft’s conduct, but unlike the browser case, there doesn’t appear to be any real barrier to competition here,” he said.


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