Panda 2013 reaches out, touches its Windows 8 future

With a new interface designed for touch screens and support for Microsoft's new operating system, Panda's annual security suite update puts a good paw forward in anticipation of Windows 8.

Touch comes to Panda Security for 2013 (photos)

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Windows 8 support and a new interface for touch screens arrive in Panda's 2013 security suites, released today.

Following the mid-summer update to Panda Cloud Antivirus, Panda's 2013 line-up of Panda Antivirus Pro 2013 (download), Panda Internet Security 2013 (download), and Panda Global Protection 2013 (download) offers a competitive range of security features. But if you're not already a Panda fan, it's hard to see what's in this year's release that would convince you to jump.

There are some solid improvements, to be sure. As mentioned, the new landing screen favors large, mobile-style buttons, well-suited for the Windows 8 touch interface. It makes the main interface easier to navigate by forcing a plethora of features into clear, defined categories. Certain core features, like the antivirus scan, continue this simplification. Other more advanced options eschew it entirely, and go directly to text-heavy windows.

On one hand, this makes sense. Most people who don't care about advanced options will never see them, so why cram a naturally complex feature-set behind cute buttons? But the end result is a jarring interface, an unfortunate mashup of traditional desktop with mobile sensibilities.

As far as the new features go, there's the antivirus engine with improved detection and removal abilities; a new password manager; integration with the Windows Update API for better operating system-level vulnerability detection; and the ability to shut down the computer after a scan. Panda expects people to see a faster install, which we can confirm was indeed quick with few screens to process through; and better system performance during on-demand scans, thanks to improved multicore processor support.

Initial CNET Labs system performance benchmarks indicate that while the Panda suites are improved over last year, the 2013 release is not dramatically faster.

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