Microsoft is moving to quash claims that its antispyware tool is now giving preferential treatment to adware maker Claria.
The beta version of Microsoft AntiSpyware previously recommended that users quarantine several products from Claria, but this changed last week.
According to a statement published by Microsoft, the downgrade in threat level merely represents an effort to be "fair and consistent with how Windows AntiSpyware (Beta) handles similar software from other vendors."
The news comes at a sensitive time, as Microsoft is reportedly in acquisition talks with Claria.
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.
"All software is reviewed under the same objective criteria, detection policies and analysis process," Microsoft said. "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."