avast! Free Antivirus 8 is the avast's next-generation security package, which now comes with a new interface and more extras and options than ever before.

Installation was quick and easy on a test Windows 7 system. If you're familiar with the product then you'll immediately notice the new interface. A compact and clean Home Page separates the beta's key functions into six panes, and clicking Scan for the first time immediately launched a Quick Scan. The scan window still presents plenty of details and options for the various shields, though - File System, Mail, Web, P2P, IM, Network, Script and Behavior - so there's plenty here to explore.

A left-hand toolbar also provides access to some interesting new tools. Software Updater checks your installed applications and alerts you to any available updates; Browser Cleanup aims to help you remove annoying addons from your browsers (although only IE and Firefox at the moment, at least on our system); and AccessAnywhere allows you to set up remote access to your PC. Some of these will apparently only be available via a commercial option called avast! Premier.

And of course there have also been improvements to the core protection technologies, so for instance FileRep and WebRep are now better able to identify and new threats in near real time.

Build 8.0.1497 brings these changes:

•   Fixed issues related to Win 8 & Win 8.1 (avast! is now fully compatible with these operating systems)
•   Fixed issues in virtualization module (including other x64 platform fixes)
•   Fixed issues in Script shield
•   Outlook plugin fixes

Verdict

avast's latest looks good and has some interesting new features, but beware - there are some significant beta bugs, too