Avast! 7 makes an impression right away with an interesting new installation routine. As well as the usual "Express" install which just gives you everything, it's also possible to run a Compatible Install which essentially means you can choose precisely what you want: which core components, which real-time shields, even which language. Which could be ideal if you want to install a minimum version of the program to run alongside another antivirus tool.

If you're happy with a regular Express install, though, it's all over very quickly, the program launches into a Quick system scan immediately, even that was then over in a fraction over a minute and then you're ready to explore further.

The program's new interface is clean and simple. Your system status is just a click away, and the real-time shields you get with this free edition - File System, Mail, Web filtering, P2P and Instant Message scanning, Network checks, Scripts and Behavioural Monitoring - can also be checked and reconfigured (if appropriate) in a moment.

Avast! 7 introduces new cloud-based services, too. Reputation Services connect to the cloud to establish the safety of websites and individual files, while new streaming updates help you stay more quickly protected against the latest threats.

One of the more unusual additions here is a Remote Assistance option, which allows you to connect to and share the desktop of another avast! user.

And of course avast! reports general improvements across the board, in particular with the program's sandbox and browsing protection.

This is the free version. The program also comes in a Pro (the commercial antivirus) and Internet Security edition, which similarly include the new installation, interface, cloud and other additional features on top of everything they had before.

Program update 1474 brings these changes:

• Win8 BSOD fixed (but still investigating some issues)
• Crashes, freezes on WinXp 64b fixed
• WebRep issues fixed
• Sandbox stability improved


We like the new installer and interface and avast! 7 includes useful new layers of protection, too.