Microsoft has moved to quash claims it gave preferential treatment to adware maker Claria.
The beta version of Microsoft AntiSpyware previously recommended that users quarantine several products from Claria (previously known as Gator) but this changed last week. Instead, users were advised to ignore the messages.
The downgrade in threat level merely represented an effort to be "fair and consistent with how Windows AntiSpyware (Beta) handles similar software from other vendors", according to a statement published by Microsoft.
The news comes at a sensitive time as Microsoft is reportedly in acquisition talks with Claria.
While the statement admitted Claria asked Microsoft in January to review AntiSpyware's classification of its products, the former said Redmond determined that continued detection was still appropriate, and would give users the choice whether or not to remove Claria software. This was a change from the previous policy in which AntiSpyware recommended users remove Claria products.
Microsoft claimed: "All software is reviewed under the same objective criteria, detection policies, and analysis process. Absolutely no exceptions were made for Claria."
"Windows AntiSpyware (Beta) continues to notify our users when Claria software is found on a computer, and it offers our users the option to remove the software if they desire.
"We firmly believe that people should have complete control over what runs on their computers," Microsoft added.
Renai LeMay reported from Sydney for ZDNet Australia. For more ZDNet Australia stories, click here..