Much like the browser wars, in antivirus land speed is in and the latest company to show off a lean and mean new product is AVG..
This week sees the launch of AVG 9.0 after a prolonged beta testing period. The focus is a speed increase of up to 50 per cent over AVG 8.5 and 10 to 15 per cent shaved off boot times and memory usage. In addition, AVG has also redesigned the UI, in an attempt to simplify navigation.
In terms of security AVG also takes its antivirus software in a new direction by combining traditional signature-based protection with behavioural, cloud-based, white listing technologies. In short, smart learning behaviour which should offer similar benefits to the Quroum engine seen in AntiVirus 2010.
Another key improvement is the integration between the Resident Shield, firewall, and identity protection modules. The result is modules which share malware information with each other - a benefit against rootkits, ID Theft threats and for which signatures have not yet been issued. For those who want to be left alone, AVG says notifications have been cut by 50 per cent over v8.5.
A final and rather interesting twist is that of the AVG 'Identity Theft Recovery Unit' (ITRU), a real world team which will provide free support to those who have been victims of identity theft. Once a crime is reported by a user the ITRU will obtain and review a user's credit reports and enrol in daily credit file monitoring and alerts for six months, as well as assist in filing police reports, placing fraud alerts and filing disputes with the three major national consumer credit reporting agencies. Impressive indeed.
One area where AVG may fall down however is pricing which starts at a hefty £39.99 for a one year, one user licence. This increases to £59.99 for a two year, one user licence with both editions available now. AVG Free 9.0 will launch in mid-October, but loses much of the functionality of the paid versions.
Will all this be enough to compete with the uber-fast Norton Antivirus 2010 (which provides three licences for £49.99) or Microsoft's equally quick and completely free Security Essentials? It's a difficult question, but one thing is certain: after years of ever more bloated antivirus products from the same old developers we're entering a far more healthy and competitive era.