Bitdefender will no longer be distributing or supporting the free version of its antivirus software for Windows as of 31st December 2021. Existing Bitdefender Free users will continue to be supported until the middle of next year (30th June 2022), giving those current users plenty of time to consider an alternative. The company will also be offering existing Bitdefender Free users a special discounted price on its premium Bitdefender Total Security via private email.
We are focusing product development around multi-platform protection and as a result, we are retiring Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition for Windows. Current users will be supported through June 30, 2022. Bitdefender values its customers and user base, all our Bitdefender Antivirus Free users will receive privately (via email) a special discounted offer for Bitdefender Total Security ~ source
At first, I thought this decision might have been motivated by the increasing popularity of Microsoft Defender. The free antivirus that’s built into Windows has improved greatly in recent years and is now at least equal to any third-party alternatives and, according to lab test results, on a par with most premium antivirus offerings. However, there are two factors that raise doubts over whether that might be the case or not:
- I can’t see that it would cost much more, if anything, for an antivirus vendor to support a free version when it is already maintaining premium solutions. Assuming the free and premium versions both share the same definition database.
- Most antivirus vendors utilize the free version to encourage users to upgrade and, let’s face it, that system represents a comparatively inexpensive form of advertising.
So, at this stage anyway, I cannot see other antivirus vendors following suit. Of course, I could be proven wrong, I often am… just ask my wife. 🙂
For Bitdefender Free users who do not want to go the Microsoft Defender route, here are a couple of free third-party alternatives that are lightweight, simple, and effective:
Both are cloud-based which means the definition database is maintained in the cloud rather than locally on the PC. This system has the advantage of always being up-to-date. Users can leave the PC turned off for several or more days and, when it’s turned back on again, the antivirus is completely up-to-date with no new definition updates required to download.
What do you think — is Microsoft Defender’s popularity forcing other developers out of the free antivirus marketplace?