AVG Free joins its siblings in the land of 8.0

After nearly two months of waiting, fans of AVG Free can rejoice: The super popular antivirus app has updated and now sports the new interface and combined security engine that its pay-for-play siblings possess.

AVG Technologies, formerly Grisoft, has updated AVG Free to Version 8.0. The other antivirus programs the company publishes updated in March, following AVG's pattern of updating the free version about a month after the paid editions get their new coats of paint.

The new interface follows the trend of left-nav tabs. Compared with the old one, this is a much-appreciated change. (Credit: AVG Technologies)

As before, AVG Free 8.0 features all the essential functions of AVG Internet Security, but none of the bells and whistles. So the new engine is intact, with combined antivirus, antispyware, and the formerly independent LinkScanner technologies rolled into one. However, there's no antirootkit protection, and other features included in AVG Anti-Virus such as instant message and download protections are also missing.

Formerly independent LinkScanner gives AVG Free users a measure of protection against Web sites. (Credit: AVG Technologies)

Overall, the new AVG Free runs better than the older versions. As we noted in our review of the product, the new engine's real-time shield works better than before, and besides the new interface, that's the most noticeable difference. The change to tabbed navigation from the horrible floating boxes of earlier editions is a long-overdue improvement that makes it much easier to focus on what you need out of the program. If you like version 7.5, there's no reason not to upgrade.

However, I'm not overly fond of AVG's habit of not being particularly forthcoming about including features and then disabling them without a more direct warning about what the program does and doesn't do. It's more than a tad bit deceptive--not the best way to treat the multimillions of people who've downloaded the free version of the program.

UPDATED 5/28/2008: After talking with AVG, email scanning is not a trial feature of the program: it is a fully integrated feature. However, it isn't advertised as an included feature, either, which led to confusion on my part. My apologies to readers who were misled by my inaccuracies.