Even PC owners who download the free version for personal use will get stronger security -- including boot-time protection that kicks in before network drivers are loaded -- from version 5 of Zone Labs' popular ZoneAlarm firewall. But two of the company's paid versions offer a big advance in online protection by integrating award-winning antivirus technology from Computer Associates. The new ZoneAlarm with Antivirus is $20, while the top-of-the-line ZoneAlarm Security Suite ($70) provides not only firewall and virus protection but instant messaging security, encryption, and spam- and script-fighting for AOL, ICQ, MSN, and Yahoo clients, as well as stopping online ads, removing unwanted cookies, and letting parents block their kids' access to inappropriate Web content. Both the Security Suite and antivirus-not-included ZoneAlarm Pro ($50) feature new Automatic Program Control technology that delivers up-to-the-minute advice, drawing on both Zone Labs' experts and its 30 million customers' experiences, about which programs are safe and which should be denied Internet access.
In other utility news, V Communications' System Commander 8 is the first major upgrade in three years to the $70 toolkit for adding and managing new operating systems. Whether Longhorn or Linux, System Commander takes no system resources or overhead, can natively install directly into NTFS from Windows NT/2000/XP/2003, and includes Partition Commander 8 to safely create, delete, resize, or convert hard-disk partitions ranging from NTFS, FAT, and FAT32 to Ext2, Ext3, and ReiserFS. Adding less than a second to the boot process, the program automatically detects all OSes on a PC and presents available choices in a skinnable graphics environment. V has also issued a new release of its advanced Windows Explorer replacement, the file manager PowerDesk Pro 6 ($40), with an updated interface, enhanced folder synchronization, multiple undo, and support for 32 compression types and over 150 file-format previews.
Related Links: Zone Labs and V Communications