Panda Software has cranked up its forthcoming Cloud Antivirus product with a new beta featuring what the company says is greatly improved performance and stability.

Scheduled for full release in the second quarter of 2010, beta 2 fixes some gripes with the current software. Files that have been automatically disinfected are now available in the recycle bin for up to three days, while the cloud detection and disinfection routine has been streamlined.

The software now integrates with Windows Security Centre while the Vista version eliminates the need for a reboot after a rogue file has been detected. The Panda team reckon the ambitious can now try it on Windows 7 release candidate as long as Vista compatibility mode is selected.

The significance of Cloud Antivirus lies in its separation of the malware detection into local and ‘cloud-based' or remote analysis and detection, which removes the need for ever-larger signature files of all possible malware combinations to be held on the PC. The superiority of this approach remains to be proved, but it does offer the theoretical possibility of near real-time detection of new malware and lower overhead for the PC itself.

"On average, it [Cloud Antivirus] consumes just 17 MB of RAM, and ensures a 50 percent improvement in computer performance compared to traditional antivirus products," the company claims.

The extensive and well-trailed beta program is undoubtedly partly an attempt to gauge the reception to an unfamiliar idea.

Beta 3, scheduled for late 2009 will address full Windows 7 compatibility and support for 64-bit versions of Windows. The company expects to give a basic version of the product away for nothing to home users, but this has yet to be confirmed.