[UPDATE: 10/23/2012, 3:00PM — Testing agency AV-Comparatives has reviewed both ESET NOD32 Antivirus and ESET Smart Security for Windows 8 compatibility. I have updated the blog post below. AG]
The release of Windows 8 is this week and interest remains high in Microsoft’s new flagship operating system. We have already taken a look at some of Window 8′s security features, yet some of the most frequently asked questions we have received have not been about Windows 8 itself, but about which of ESET’s programs will be compatible with Windows 8 and when they will be available.
With those questions in mind, let me start by providing you with a simple answer, with details to follow:
Now, if you are already are using ESET NOD32 Antivirus or ESET Smart Security, you may be a bit surprised at the last item, as that is the current version number. Version 220.127.116.11 has been shipping for several months now, and is compatible with Windows 2000 and later.
So, what exactly does it mean that ESET is not changing the version numbers for ESET NOD32 Antivirus and ESET Smart Security to show Windows 8 compatibility? Does it mean that those programs are already compatible with Windows 8?
Well, yes and no.
When ESET engineered NOD32 in the late 1990s, it was designed around the concept of having a framework consisting of a base scanning engine, the behavior of which could be changed through various plugins to provide new functionality or features where needed, even to the point of allowing ESET to create entirely new products. That way, when a new means of interfacing with the system became available, the appropriate mechanism could be created as a transport medium between that interface and the scanning engine. Example of this include adding a Layered Service Provider (LSP) for scanning network traffic under Windows 95, or the Virus Scanning API (VSAPI) introduced around 2001 for scanning Microsoft Exchange servers, a technology used by ESET to create NOD32 for Microsoft Exchange, or XMON, as it was called. For the consumer, though, this modular architecture was probably most noticeable when ESET Smart Security was first released in 2007, as the new product included antispam and firewall functionality in addition to threat detection using the third generation of the NOD32 engine.
This flexible design, coupled with our relationship with Microsoft, allowed ESET to begin planning for protecting the next version of Microsoft Windows after Windows 7 while the new operating system was still in the very early stages of development. The fifth generation of ESET NOD32 Antivirus and ESET Smart Security were planned with the goal of being compatible with Windows v.next , or, as it was eventually called, Windows 8. While a great deal of work still had to be done by our engineers to update the various components of ESET’s software as the OS evolved, it did not require the kind of wholesale rewriting other companies have to do to make their products compatible with a new version of Windows.
This ensured that any updates to the product that we made for compatibility with the build of Windows 8 that Microsoft released to manufacturing, Build 9200, could be handled as module updates, which are delivered transparently using the same mechanism as used for threat signature database updates.
If you have already downloaded Version 18.104.22.168, you don’t need to download it again just because you are installing Windows 8; the program will update itself the first time it is run. ESET Smart Security and ESET NOD32 Antivirus Version 22.214.171.124 were released about four months ago, though, which means the modules in its installer, as well as the threat signature database, are about four months old, so if you are performing a fresh install of ESET’s software onto Windows 8, you will have a larger-than-average update (about 50MB or so) the first time the software runs.
[UPDATE] As a matter of fact, two independent testing organizations, AV-Comparatives and AV-TEST, performed rigorous tests of both ESET NOD32 Antivirus and ESET Smart Security Version 126.96.36.199 under Windows 8 and both agencies found them to be compatible. You can view AV-Comparatives approval here and the results of AV-TEST’s testing here.
Just because we have been working on ensuring Windows 8 compatibility with the current versions of our software that does not mean that we have paused development of the next generation. Both ESET NOD32 Antivirus and ESET Smart Security Version 6 have been under continuous development, and Release Candidates of both are currently available through the ESET Beta Test Portal.
So, what does the sixth generation of ESET technology have in store for you? Well, besides its compatibility with Windows 8 when it ships, there are some improvements that will be immediately noticeable, as well as many less obvious enhancements under the hood. Here’s a quick look at the highlights:
In addition to these new features, we have also made improvements to existing functionality. Users of Version 6 will notice changes to Anti-Phishing, cloud-based detection, firewall, removable media management and HIPS.
We also have some additional new features and improvements planned, which may be a subject for discussion in a future blog post.
ESET anticipates releasing Version 6 of both ESET NOD32 Antivirus and ESET Smart Security early in 2013 and, as with previous releases of new versions, it will be a free upgrade to existing customers.
Are you using Windows 8 now with ESET’s software? Are you planning on installing ESET after upgrading to Windows 8 or buying a new slate? Let us know your thoughts, below!
Author Aryeh Goretsky, We Live Security