Avira service pack brings new toolbar

Avira updates its popular antivirus suite AntiVir with a bucketload of improvements, including threat detection enhancements, improved post-infection repair, and something that may irk Avira fans--an Ask.com browser toolbar.

Branded search toolbars are nothing new in the software world, a significant source of revenue for many software publishers, but the Ask.com-branded toolbar that German free antivirus maker Avira launched last week is definitely new to that product. Available in Avira Antivir Personal, AntiVir Premium, and AntiVir Premium Security Suite, Avira's AntiVir Service Pack 2 includes the toolbar and numerous security improvements.

New Avira users will see this Ask.com-branded toolbar option when they install the program. (Credit: Avira)

AntiVir SP2 comes as part of the program for new users, while existing users in the United States and Germany should have already received SP2 from the program's update mechanism. People in other countries will receive the update in early August.

The toolbar itself is not bereft of security-specific features, as it does include an indicator to let people know when Avira's Web safety shield WebGuard is out of date. The WebGuard blocks you from accessing Web sites that are malicious or have been infected. WebGuard's "blocked" page has been updated in SP2, as well, with more detailed information on the site you were attempting to reach and why it was blocked.

The toolbar works with Firefox and Internet Explorer, but not Chrome, and its inclusion is notable because it represents a new move for Avira in the ongoing struggle that the company and its competitors face in making money off of labor-intensive free software. Whether the toolbar will scare users off or inspire indifference has yet to be seen.

Avira Service Pack 2 other changes to AntiVir include strengthened rootkit detection, enhancements to existing repair tools to more effectively clean an infected computer, a more detailed scan log for people who like to know what their antivirus has found, and better support files for users who have questions about how AntiVir works.

The publisher has also identified some known bugs in the update and posted fixes for them.