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Editors' note: On March 5, 2008, CNET revised its antispyware review ratings to emphasize a product's ability to remove spyware. The new ratings are based on the following formula: Installation (20 percent), Features (20 percent), Performance (50 percent), and Support (10 percent). In most cases a product's rating went down, expanding the range between highest and lowest rated.
Trend Micro Antivirus and Antispyware has made gains since last year, introducing a number of features in its 2008 model that are useful in both the home and small office. Aside from the intuitive interface, Trend Micro provides a number of configuration options that allow the user to control the application, something we faulted Norton Antivirus 2008 for not providing. And Trend Micro Antivirus and Antispyware 2008 also supports the current releases of AOL's and Yahoo's instant messengers, again something that Norton Antivirus 2008 doesn't provide. But on the critical question of protecting your PC, we could find no independent data comparing Trend Micro Antivirus plus Antispyware with our Editors' Choice, Kaspersky Anti-Virus 7. Thus, we cannot, at this time, rank the latest offering from Trend Micro. Check back in a few weeks to see any updates to this review. For a look inside, see our Trend Micro Antivirus plus Antispyware 2008 slide show.
We installed Trend Micro Antivirus plus Antispyware 2008 without incident. It requires 100MB for installation and 256MB of RAM for operation, and it runs under all versions of Windows, from 2000 through Vista. Trend Micro AV AS supports both Internet Explorer and Firefox. It will scan e-mail for Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail (Vista), and Mozilla Thunderbird, but not Qualcomm Eudora. It will monitor or scan current IM releases from Yahoo, Microsoft, ICQ, and AOL. Trend Micro Antivirus plus Antispyware 2008 includes only one PC license at $39.95. By comparison, Panda Antivirus offers its three-user license for the same price. Kaspersky is slightly more expensive, selling its single-user license for $49.95; it offers a three-user license for just $10 more. Should you decide to remove Trend Micro Antivirus plus Antispyware 2008, the program includes its own uninstall icon.
The interface is a simplified version of the one used in Trend Micro Internet Security 2008. Still, compared with the brooding, overbearing look and feel of Norton Antivirus 2008, we really like it. Features are accessed along the left-hand margin, while the large right window is used for detail. Configuration options occasionally pop up additional windows, but never more than one.
We really like the configuration option that allows us to control the level of alerts--either it will show us all the possible alerts, or it groups them and only occasionally displays a message. We think that's great, since more advanced users might not want to be informed of everything, where casual users will appreciate the application's attention to detail.
Trend Micro continues to streamline its scanning process, this year combining antivirus, antispyware, and antirootkit scans into one engine. When the scans are complete, Trend Micro Antivirus plus Antispyware 2008 displays information about each threat. This is also true in the Changes scan, which can review changes that are made to your system registry or other key program files. By highlighting each change, the right-hand column provides additional details without having to access the Internet and go to the Trend Micro site.
Like Kaspersky and Norton, Trend Micro includes enhanced heuristics. Trend Micro's Proactive Intrusion Blocking feature is a part of the Enhanced Behavior Monitoring module and part of a company initiative to provide Host Intrusion Prevention (HIP) to all the Trend Micro 2008 security products, both enterprise and consumer. What that means for you is that emerging threats are blocked proactively by a constantly updated rules set. In addition, Trend Micro is able to trace the source of various changes in your system registry, your Windows folder, and instead of producing dozens of alerts, simply presents one unified alert.
One very cool feature is the ability to clean up various files, be it the cache of the browser, or the last-viewed files in Word. This one-stop cleaning is an important security feature, especially if you share your computer with others.
Another feature we like is the ability for Trend Micro to erase the log files and other security entrapments created by using AOL and Yahoo instant messengers. Unlike Norton Antivirus 2008, which does not support the latest versions of these popular IMs, Trend Micro offers configuration settings for AOL and Yahoo, allowing you to keep the logs if you so desire.
What's missing is a personal firewall; having that would make this product pretty invincible. Also missing are the hourly updates, such as those from Kaspersky. While Trend Micro does issue regular updates, it does so only every three hours. During those three hours, you'll be dependent on the program's heuristics.
The antispyware portion of last year's edition of Trend Micro Antivirus and Antispyware was excellent, fast at scanning, but it often didn't give us the choice of whether or not to remove something--it did it for us. In exclusive testing by CNET Labs, Trend Micro's active shields identified and blocked seven out of eight spyware samples we attempted to install, the best results out of 10 antispyware products tested.
To determine how well a product will protect your PC, we refer to test results from leading independent antivirus testing organizations. Only CheckVir.com ranked Trend Micro PC-Cillin Internet Security 2007 as one of four products to earn its Advanced rating, which means the product was tested on finding and removing antivirus threats. Trend Micro has not been reviewed by AV-Comparatives.org. The lack of independent testing makes it hard for us to say definitively how good Trend Micro's antivirus protection really is.
Trend Micro Antivirus and Antispyware 2008 provides pretty decent contextual help, meaning that on each configuration screen, you can click Help and quickly find definitions for all the terms used on a given page. This is something that Norton Antivirus 2008 lacks, and it puzzles us why Symantec can't deliver on this feature. Trend Micro is also one of the few security vendors to offer free telephone and Internet chat support for its products. That's good because the online technical support information for Trend Micro Antivirus plus Antispyware 2008 still is not that good. Not only does Trend Micro lack a Getting Started PDF, but there is no manual. Kaspersky provides a 323-page manual that covers everything within its product. We also found the Trend Micro FAQ to be lacking information. This product lacks a tutorial for the standalone antivirus application. We'd really like to see improvements in this section next year.
Without testing data, it is hard to say conclusively whether or not Trend Micro Antivirus plus Antispyware 2008 is a good investment. On the issue of ease of use, Trend Micro has made considerable improvements over last year's version, and, for the price, it includes a number of worthwhile features that are useful in both the home and small office.