Optimizers and antivirus software join forces to avoid extinction

In this age of mobile applications and everything “in the cloud”, there were only two options left for system cleaners and antivirus software: join forces or die. That’s why they are increasingly being bundled together in complete packages that can offer some of  the functionality that Windows lacks.

Since its arrival on the scene, antivirus software and optimization tools have shared a common goal: solving the problems that Microsoft has never wanted to recognize – in other words, the fact that its operating systems are inefficient and insecure. The archetype for all optimizers was Norton, which launched tools to improve MS-DOS, such as Norton Utilities and Norton Antivirus. Later, with Windows 95, we saw a second revival of these tools. Widespread internet suddenly facilitated the spread of viruses and versions of Windows suffered from numerous problems that slowed them down.

In Windows 95 and 98, critical errors (blue screens) were a common sight

Around then, registry cleaning became as common an action as scanning the PC for viruses or deleting cookies. In fact, Windows seemed to require more special care and attention than looking after a Stradivarius violin! But when Microsoft released Windows XP – with the same solid architecture as that of Windows NT and 2000 – the need for optimization tools decreased or even disappeared. In some cases, using them was just a matter of  superstition and habit. For example, we found out that cleaning the Windows registry doesn’t actually result in any real benefits, but people continued to do it!

Windows registry appeared with Windows 3.1 and became popular with Windows 95 (source)

Although the improvements in Windows 7 and 8 haven’t eliminated performance problems completely, the problems that do exist aren’t so serious, making optimizer advertising actually quite misleading. Memory optimizers, for example, are practically useless, and registry defragmenters don’t improve anything. In fact, cleaning too aggressively can damage the system.

Optimizers are starting to look towards the issue of security…

The only two areas where optimizers are still playing a leading role are memory consumption and the protection of privacy. The keep an eye on the former by watching for processes that slow down your system – Soluto, for example, analyzes the booting process. The second objective, the protection of privacy, is achieved by eliminating traces that can reveal a user’s habits.

Soluto has brought a breath of fresh air to the stale landscape of memory optimizers

The areas in which optimizers are more effective fall within the jurisdiction of antivirus software, which is also capable of eliminating traces and monitoring rogue programs. The majority of security suites have utilities to clean and optimize your PC. Norton 360, for example, has its own “PC Tuneup”, while Avira’s pro version, which has always been purely antivirus software, has become a suite with backup function and the ability to remove traces.

… and antivirus software is looking towards optimization

Antivirus software needs to branch out because pure antivirus tools are less useful than before: new threats take advantage of the of the user naivety, and the dangers that are to be found in social networks and websites. As the Police virus proved, anti viruses react slowly and poorly, which has called into question their usefulness. The inclusion of Windows Defender in Windows 8 has been another blow to antivirus software.

With Windows 8, and for the first time in history, Microsoft included antivirus software in Windows

But unlike what happened with optimizers, the popularity of antivirus tools remains high, because security is a major concern for users. The diversification of threats now means that antivirus software is a set of tools rather than a simple scanner.

Backups, passwords, antivirus… Now you can build your own suite of utilities

A perfect example of what security is becoming is the Avast! 2014 shop, with modules that can be purchased separately. In Windows, the same thing is happening as with Android: malware scanners are just one of the many features offered by security apps that are more like TuneUp than Avira.

Collaborating is cheaper than innovating

While antiviruses and optimizers are busy attracting Windows users, they are moving towards cloud-based systems. At the same time, more people are using mobile devices and tablets, whose operating systems are more secure. They are not only safer, but also more efficient: nobody defragments a mobile.

When it comes to mobile phones and tablets, antivirus and optimizers can succeed, but only if they join forces

If optimizers want to survive, they must look to achieve symbiosis with antivirus software. This is the approach chosen by Advanced SystemCare, a suite of optimization tools that for years has included a malware scanner provided by BitDefender.  This is in addition to the usual functions, such as cleaning junk files and a performance optimizer.

It’s an excellent tactic to use to ensure the survival of both types of utilities: antivirus software gains visibility as a utility within a broader package, and the optimizer can boast security as part of its range of functions. Everyone wins, including the user, who has only needed to buy one single product.

There are firms, however, that are reluctant to embrace this core change. TuneUp, for example, is still looking for the most effective tools, and has created impressive functions like Turbo Boost. But innovation is increasingly difficult: the bottlenecks are disappearing from Windows, and memory consumption is less of an issue than before.

What do you think of this alliance between optimizers and antivirus software?

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