AVG Anti-Virus 2012 Free is the very latest edition of the popular, free antivirus engine.
The main change in this edition is a new focus on performance. The program uses up to 20% less memory, and has cut the number of background processes on your system. The antivirus database has shrunk in size by 40%, and the scans are faster, too.
A few small interface changes mean you now get integrated links to assorted AVG addons: Family Safety (parental controls), LiveKive (online backup) or PC Tuneup. All these are optional extras which you'll have to pay to enjoy in full, although some of the subscriptions are surprisingly reasonable: clicking Family Safety shows that covering 3 PCs for a year will cost only £0.95.
Aside from the built-in real-time and on-demand malware protection, AVG Anti-Virus 2012 Free also provides some browsing protection in the shape of its LinkScanner and SurfShield technologies. These aim to block access to malicious websites, and will keep some threats at bay, though not quite as many as the best of the commercial tools.
And also new this time around is the AVG Advisor, which monitors your PC for various problems - a browser which is using too much RAM, say - and then pops up to warn you, and offer various solutions. In theory this sounds reasonable, but it'll take some time before we can decide how useful the feature really is.
This is AVG 2012 SP1 (Service Pack 1). New features include the ability to block ad trackers which follow you around the internet monitoring your browsing habits. The new WiFi Guard module will protect you from accidentally connecting to fake/spoof wireless networks, includes a rootkit scan wit the default system scanning and more.
AVG Anti-Virus 2012 Free doesn't include any revolutionary changes, it's more about incremental improvements all across the program, but these seem well-judged and on balance it's a solid new release