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.
The program also comes in a Pro version, which is available to download here. The difference between Free and Pro is significant. Pro offers a SafeZone to protect you whilst you do your online shopping, a sandbox so you can surf the internet without any malware affecting your computer and a program sandbox to enable you to test and examine new software, without it affecting the operating of your PC.
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
The Pro version builds on the fantastic Free, enabling you to use it as your primary security suite or as a second-line optional scanner (in addition to your regular security suite). Recommended.