avast! 8 is available -- get it NOW!

AVAST Software has announced the public availability of avast! 8, which now comes in four main flavors: avast! Free Antivirusavast! Pro Antivirus (from $39)avast! Internet Security (from $49) andavast! Premier (from $69).

The suites all have a new touch-optimized, Windows 8-style interface. And they also include Software Updater, a tool which automatically checks for updates of the most commonly-exploited apps (Adobe Reader, Adobe AIR, Flash, Java, browsers and so on), as well as a simple Browser Cleanup app to help you review your browser add-ons, and remove or disable any you don’t want.

Improvements behind the scenes see avast! 8 better able to detect and block not just one the one particular sample you’ve encountered, but also many similar files, and even entire malware families.

AVAST’s Ondrej Vlcek claims this new technology “helps create much more efficient definitions, which can often protect against vast sets of malware, including unknown ‘zero-day’ malware, without the risk of generating false positives.”

Avast! 8 also introduces a new detection engine which monitors suspect files in an isolated environment before you’re able to execute them, is better able to monitor what they’re doing, and, avast! says, will “help users make more intelligent decisions, whether files running in the sandbox are malicious or not”.

And also new this time is the avast! Premium suite, which has all the regular avast! Internet Security features (antivirus, browsing protection, firewall, antispam) and adds additional tools of its own. So your money gets you extras like the automatic installation of any Software Updater upgrades; AccessAnywhere (remotely control your PC from across the internet); an ad blocker, and a Data Shredder to securely wipe confidential files.

Will these features really be enticing enough to tempt the masses? We’re not quite sure, but even if you’re sticking to avast! Free Antivirus 8, there’s plenty to explore. We like the new interface, the Software Updater is useful, Browser Cleanup is helpful for beginners, and it’s still one of the best free antivirus tools around.

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