The beta version of Microsoft AntiSpyware previously recommended users quarantine several products from Claria (previously known as Gator) but security researchers discovered earlier this month that Redmond had changed those classifications. Users now receive messages to ignore the products.
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 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.
"All software is reviewed under the same objective criteria, detection policies, and analysis process," Microsoft claimed. "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.