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Review: AVGs updates for 2013 look to the future while struggling to overcome the problems of the past. Theres a new interface optimized for Windows 8 that really does make the suite easier to use, and the suite once again tackles its lengthy installation procedure. However, one of the best new features in AVG was actually introduced as a midyear update during 2012.
Installation We found that the program can go from completed download to ready to use in about 5 minutes.
AVGs touted its five-screen installation for several years now. While its true that the process continues to be short, its important to call out a few improvements and one glaring snag.
The installer itself now weighs in at 33MB, down from more than 100MB two years ago. The installer also does not require a reboot. This isnt surprising for Windows 8, but even on computers running Windows 7 and older, installing AVG will be reboot-free. Unfortunately, not only do you still have to opt out of AVGs toolbar and SafeSearch if you dont want them, but even when you choose only the toolbar, it commandeers your default location bar search in Firefox. This is, of course, problematic because the toolbar provides some important security options, such as AVG Do Not Track.
AVG loses points as well for force-shutting your browser without warning during installation, and for not adapting the installation options to Windows 8. AVG has retained the small check boxes from previous years, which are difficult to use by touch.
A more customer-friendly approach would be to go for an opt-in process that doesnt move forward until the user makes a decision. After all, this is what AVG does when asking you to choose between AVG Free or a 30-day trial of AVG Internet Security.
Interface Windows 8 has forced every Windows software maker around to reconsider how its programs look, and thats a good thing. Whether kicking and screaming, or gleefully leaping, software designers are changing how they make their Windows apps, and AVG is no different.
Although the security suite had been using a variation of the same interface for years, the 2013 suite has been overhauled with a new one that embraces large, boldly colored, tile-like buttons that ought to feel at home in Windows 8.
The new main interface lays out AVGs features in a clean, legible manner. The upper right corner has links to Reports, Support, and Options. At first blush, the Options list is overwhelmingly long, but navigating is impressively accurate on a touch screen. It contains direct links to features that are also available behind the tiles that take up most of the interface.
Next on your way down the main screen is a protection status notification in green for safe or red for unsafe, and then there are three rows of tiles. The first row of bright green tiles are links to core security options: Computer, Web Browsing, Identity, E-mails, and Firewall. The second row are blue, and link to AVGs performance optimizer, parental controls, and the backup service LiveKive. Next to LiveKive theres a button for AVG apps, new services that havent been revealed at the time of writing.
The third row contains two teal buttons, one to commence a scan and one to update virus definition files. If youre running AVG Free, the bottom quarter of the interface is an ad to upgrade to AVG Internet Security 2013. Behind each of the buttons is a deeper dive into its associated functions. Under Computer, for example, you have access to antivirus and antirootkit scans, statistics, and configurations.
The interface is basically highly navigable, except that people with Windows 8 touch screens could find the third level down tricky without a mouse. If you go into Configurations or another deeper settings level, the advanced settings options could still be too small for some people to easily adjust.
Do note that AVG is essentially running a Windows 7 program with Windows 8 dressing. It opens to Desktop mode, and runs in a single window that doesnt take up the full screen. Its possible that there have been under-the-hood improvements that will allow AVG to adapt to a Metro interface easily, but thats not available yet.
Features and support While the interface is new, and as youll see below, the performance improvements are stunning, AVGs focus for 2013 has not been to push aggressive new security tech. Thats okay. Instead, the focus this year was to bring some tech that exists at competitors to AVGs enormous, 128-million-strong active user base.
Theres a new file reputation system, which AVG also uses in conjunction with its scans to scan dramatically faster than before.
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