AOL has stopped offering its free Active Virus Shield software in favour of a competing tool from McAfee.

The free antivirus software, based on technology from Kaspersky Lab, had been available for the past year on AOL's website, but it apparently was pulled some time in the past week.

AOL's free AV product is now McAfee VirusScan Plus, which was introduced last month as part of a new AOL portal, called AOL Internet Security Central. AOL also offers internet filtering software for parents, as well as identity theft protection and pop-up blockers, through the portal.

Users who want to install the McAfee software will have to sign up for an AOL account, a restriction that did not exist with the Kaspersky product.

Active Virus Shield had its own licensing complications. When it was first launched last year, it came with a licensing agreement that some said was overly demanding and would permit AOL to send spam or serve up adware to users at some point in the future. After media reports, AOL vowed to remove the controversial licensing terms.