Starting this week, we have made most of our Avast antivirus products and solutions free for use by schools and libraries in the US. This is just the first step and if it is successful, we will extend it worldwide. We are doing this for a couple of reasons. First, even though schools need security products, in these tough budget times, they need the ability to focus their spending on teaching. A couple of us here at Avast used to run the government and education sales at Symantec some years ago. We know that schools spend a lot on security—money that could be better spent on teaching.
While the first reason is altruistic, the second is not. Quite simply, we want to increase our visibility in the US market. When students, staff, and faculty use our product at school, they will be more inclined to also use our free product at home. We also ask, but don't require, that schools make a link to our free consumer product available to their students, parents, etc. We know that for every million free users, a good number will end up upgrading to our paid product. These upgrades to our paid products enables us to protect 160 million users for free.
In the US, there are about 130,000 schools and according to the US Census Bureau, about 79 million students. Add to this the millions of teachers and staff required to teach 79 million students and there may be close to 100 million involved in education. Providing our product free to these students, faculty, and staff is a great opportunity to get our name and products much better known. Using our product for free is also a good way for schools to save money. Let's assume that there are about 10 million PCs in use in schools—that would be about one for every 10 students, staff, and faculty. If antivirus costs about $20/PC, that is $200,000,000. If an average teacher costs $100,000 (salary, retirement, benefits, etc.), this $200 million saved could fund 2,000 teachers.
This is not a teaser campaign. We are offering not just our normal free consumer products, but also our core business product for free:
- Avast! Free Antivirus—this is our normal consumer free product which has about 160 million users. In the past, we only allowed this product to be used for free by home users. Now it can be used for free by home, school, and library users. It can run on Windows PCs, Macs, and Androids.
- Avast! End Point Protection Suite—this is our most popular centrally-managed business product and it has never been offered for free. Two different management environments are offered for this product: the small business console can support about 200 – 300 computer environments while the enterprise console can centrally support up to 30,000 computers.
We started piloting this about a month or so ago and already have about 100 schools that have requested about 200,000 licenses. These schools range from small K-12 rural schools to large state Universities:
- Mississippi State University, School of Human Services
- University of California (San Diego), Carver College
- Ranger College, Worthmore Academy (IN and MN)
- Excell Academy for Higher Learning
- Evesham Township School District
- Mount Clemens Community School District
We have made the free product easy to get. Just visit http://www.avast.com/en-us/education to submit your application. The difficulty though is getting the word out. So, please feel free to forward this blog entry to your local schools, teachers, teacher unions, PTAs, etc.
Now, for the fine print. These products are only available for free to public or non-profit schools as defined by the IRS Regulations 501(c) and to public libraries. Second, since the product is free, we are not able to provide extensive technical support. Instead we recommend that schools use their IT department, their normal IT service provider, or a local Avast partner for support.