The only difference I can foresee would be the AOL logo on the product and possibly it being an older version as the 3rd party vendors tend to be late in offering the latest versions. I really am not sure if they offer all the same features, you would have to compare online or ask them.
McAfee's software is up to Security Center version number 9.3 now. If theirs is less then they aren't yet up to date and there is nothing McAfee can do about that I'm afraid. You can check the version by double-clicking the taskbar icon and then clicking "About" in the lower right-hand corner of the open window.
Try downloading AOL protection, try it for a while, then uninstall and try a trial version of McAfee direct and see what you think or, if already on AOL then uninstall that and try McAfee direct free trials. You can always go back.
Trial versions of McAfee can be obtained here: http://us.mcafee.com/root/downloads.asp?id=freeTrials But please uninstall all other versions first via Control Panel/Add or Remove Programs (Programs/Uninstall a Program in Vista), then use the MCPR removal tool linked in my signature, reboot and then download and install. It is recommended that you enable Windows Firewall before removing protection software.