Avast 6 beta buffs up free antivirus with better sandboxing, new Web protection
Two technologies which were introduced in paid editions of Avast 5 -- the Web Script Shield and site blocking -- have been made added to the free version of Avast 6. A new Web reputation plug-in has been added which adds Web of Trust-like functionality to both Firefox and Internet Explorer (including IE9). Paid version also include a new virtualized "SafeZone" designed to better secure sensitive data transmitted to the Web -- such as details provided during online banking sessions or checkout.
Avast 6 also improves its sandboxing abilities with a new feature that automatically isolates suspicious applications as soon as they are executed. The sandbox itself has been improved, though no specifics were given in the release post.
One final addition is the sidebar gadget you see in the screenshot above. Why add a gadget, you ask? It's actually a pretty smart move, since Windows tends to hide antivirus system tray icons -- leading some users to think that they might not be protected. The widget leaves no doubt, with its big, green 'secured' bar. The three buttons at its base will start a system scan, force an update, or load the main Avast 6 window. None of this can be done from the tray icon any more -- there's no context menu and a single left-click simply opens Avast.
Since Avast 6 is still in beta testing, we don't recommend using it for full-time antivirus duties on important systems. It's certainly worth throwing on a virtual machine or spare, unloved metal if you'd like to see the new features in action.
Download Avast 6 Beta