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AVG goes toe to toe with MS in consumer security fight

US gets discount, as usual

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Update AVG is putting an emphasis on increased speed with a revamp of its free and paid for security suites.

The latest revamp - AVG 9.0 - boasts 50 per cent faster speed and increased ease of use. Improvements in speed have been achieved by skipping the scan of files already marked as safe in future scans unless the file structure changes. The approach also offers claimed improvements of ten to 15 per cent for boot times and memory usage, respectively.

The firewall module in AVG 9.0 has also been redesigned to be less intrusive (ie fewer 'Do you want to allow this application online' questions) alongside tighter integration with the anti-malware scanner that forms the core of the product. This anti-malware scanner makes greater use of behaviour-based, cloud-based and white-listing technologies.

AVG has partnered with Intersections to offer identity theft recovery services, but this offer is available only to US users.

Rather unfortunately for those who remember the John Major government of the mid 1990s in the UK, AVG describes all this as going "back to basics". There's no word on any security equivalent of a cones hotline.

Paid versions of AVG 9.0 paid were available from Monday with a one-year, one-seat license for AVG Anti-Virus 9.0 starting at £27.99 ($44.50) in the UK. In continental Europe the price is €33.95. But in the US the price starts at just $34.99, around $10 less and with the addition of identity theft recovery services to boot.

For AVG Internet Security the pricing is £39.99 ($63.70) inc VAT, €52.95 inc VAT in Europe and $54.99 in the US (excluding sales tax).

The difference in pricing is less than we first reported but again significant, especially when the US-only availability of ID protection is factored into the equation.

AVG Free 9.0 will be available mid-October. Details of the features are being held back until then, but expect to see a cut-down product based on the same engine but without a firewall and other bells and whistles. Based on past form, AVG free will offer an anti-malware scanner alongside LinkScanner safe search technology.

AVG's business model relies on selling into small business and getting a percentage of consumer users of its free product (perhaps around two per cent) to upgrade. The consumer end of this equation is severely threatened by Microsoft Security Essentials launch.

Recommendations from tech savvy friends were one of the main reasons consumers latched onto AVG in the first place. AVG lost a lot of goodwill in this area with the traffic-spewing fiasco that attached to version 8.0 of its security scanner.

Secondly, irrespective of the technical merits of its product, AVG is facing off against Redmond's marketing muscle while at the same time hunting for a new chief executive.

AVG's overall business efforts received a huge boost on Friday with the announcement of a $200m investment from private equity firm TA Associates. Two representatives from TA will join the AVG board and can be expected to have a big say in the appointment of a new chief exec, alongside other institutional shareholders including Benson Oak Capital and Intel Capital. ®

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