Thoughts on the future of Ad-Aware

Ad-Aware was created more than twelve years ago to combat a new problem being ignored by anti-virus companies; adware and spyware. It may be that anti-virus companies didn’t have the know-how, the will, or were simply afraid of being sued by wealthy and litigious adware companies but it was a problem that someone needed to address.

A small group of dedicated activists decided to take matters into their own hands and built the very first program to combat the growing problem – Ad-Aware. The first versions of Ad-Aware weren’t pretty, but it was functional, had a clear, single purpose and it worked. Being good guys, Lavasoft gave it away for free to whoever wanted it. It turned out that a lot of people did.

Ten years later, Ad-Aware had generated over 300 Million downloads blocking, detecting and removing countless malware infections. In 2012, Ad-Aware is still being downloaded in huge numbers with over 450 million downloads to date. We still give it away for free.

Other security software companies followed Lavasoft’s lead and created free products – arguably for less altruistic reasons – to create a large enough community of “freemium” users to be targeted for eventual monetization one way or another and that’s OK. People are more comfortable than ever with this business model – they recognize and accept that “free” stuff like software, streamed media and even Google has to be financially supported somehow to keep their products free.

As the security space started to gather momentum, more and more products appeared on the market. Competition is vital – it encourages products to improve, evolve and innovate. However, many in the industry seem to have missed this point, adding new and more features as a way to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market. Today, antiviruses have become bloated giants, difficult to use, taking up more and more system resources often asking you to pay for the privilege.

Looking at smartphone apps today is a humbling experience. A slew of small, powerful and often free apps built around a core functionality. They do their job well and exactly as expected. Desktop applications could learn a thing or two from their smartphone counterparts.

For Lavasoft, these small, efficiently engineered apps are an inspiration to make our products simpler and more intuitive than ever, focusing on doing a few things extremely well. We’ll let other companies try to convince you their monolithic product covers all the bases. Good luck to them – they’ll need it.

Our goals with Ad-Aware 11 are quite ambitious but attainable. Here are a few of them:

  • Offer a free anti-malware product with the best malware/virus detection and removal capabilities, blocking and removing all types of malware including unknown zero-day threats.  Early results show us this is well within our reach.
  • Make Ad-Aware more intuitive and easy to use. A simplified interface puts the user experience first – it might shock some reviewers but we don’t make Ad-Aware for them. We even want expert users to get some relief. Gone are the thousands of options that allow you to endlessly customize and reconfigure everything. Instead, you will find simple and basic controls that will get Ad-Aware out of your way allowing you to focus on getting stuff done.
  • A soon-to-be-announced simplified Antivirus Companion product whose purpose is to provide a complementary layer security to users of other antivirus products. Think of it as a second line of defense against malware that won’t conflict with your primary antivirus.

We’re aiming to combine the simplicity and focus of our original apps with all the power of a premium priced anti-virus scanner – for free. Ad-Aware 11 will be a significant leap forward for Lavasoft and an essential weapon in your armory.

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