Vincent Steckler

19 January 2010

Avast! Free Antivirus, Version 5.0: “…nothing short of a miracle”

Virus Bulletin, one of the most respected reviewers of security products, wrote a very detailed review of the Avast 5.0 beta products in their January issue (http://www.virusbtn.com/files/Avast-Jan2010.pdf). This is a lengthy review but to me the best line was their summation of the new free product: "the free version being available to all without charge is nothing short of a miracle". There was also a review of it in the recent AV-Comparatives test of performance/system impact. The product scored the highest rating: A+.

With the new Free Version 5.0, we attempted (and we think succeeded) to raise the bar on free security products. We decided that our new free product needed to be the best antivirus product in the world—not just the best free product. We think we have succeeded, or come darn close. Now you the users (and of course the reviewers) can let us know….

Our version 4.8 was already one of the best products available. But it did have short comings. Its user interface was, to put it mildly, unique. And its registration process was a bit cumbersome. In developing the new free product, we attempted to not only fix the shortcomings of 4.8, but to greatly expand the capability of the free product.

The free product is our flagship product. We are proud of it. It is not just a marketing product designed to drive sales. So, with the new free product, here is what we have done:

  • Built an entirely new user interface. The old car stereo interface is gone replaced with a very modern and easy to use graphical interface.
  • Eliminated the email registration process. The free product still lasts for a year but now it only takes seconds online to register the product. All a person has to now do is to click a "register" button—no forms to fill out and no email information to provide.
  • Added a gaming mode—elements of this were there in 4.8 but now we have made this a central function. No need to buy someone else's "gaming" product. All the capability is right here in the free product.
  • Ensured protection is top-notch. This was also a hallmark of the 4.8 version. We have long believed that free products should provide just as much malware protection as paid products. So in addition to the signature-based AV protection that you would expect, you also get all the modern detection techniques. Central to this is protection against web threats. These are 85% of the threats our users see—and the free product provides protection against them. There are also heuristic detections, behavioral detections, and just about any type of protection you can think of.
  • Continued our hands-off approach to asking for money. We don't agree with how many free products try to monetize their free users. So with us, we don't hide the free product (it is front and center on our home page); you will not see a daily pop-up asking you to upgrade; the product will not find problems and then ask for money to fix them; and we won't scare you into upgrading. Now of course, there are sales messages. There is a message when you download the free product. There is a message when you register the free product. And at expiration time a year later, there is a message. But in all of this messaging, you are presented two choices: download/register the free product or upgrade to a premium product. The choice is yours.
  • Today January 19th, the free product (and all products) is being released in English and French. Over the next 10 days we will be rolling out the product in Czech, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Polish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

We did not cripple the product in any way. If you use the internet for e-mail or web-browsing, this is the perfect product. No need to pay us money…..and no need to pay anyone else any money.

In short, it is just as Virus Bulletin described, "nothing short of a miracle".

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