It seems Symantec hasfinallygot the message about Norton bloat: it has promised its new Norton security software will have a smaller footprint and run faster.PLUS:Vintage Norton advertising: Peter Norton and the Village People.
Symantec has put its Norton 2007 security range on a lettuce leaf diet that'd make even the skinniest supermodel feel bloated.Responding to increased user concern over the software's appetite for memory and the knock-on effect on system performance, the Norton engine has been "rewritten from the ground up" according to David Hall, Symantec's local Consumer Product Marketing Manager.
"One of the main themes (for the Norton 2007 range) is that you need to have security, but at what cost on your system? So one of the big improvements is speed -- the whole thing has been designed to be very light on system resources" Hall told APCmag.com.
"In all tests -- boot time, how much memory it consumes, how long it takes the interface to open, scan a drive or download updates over HTTP, we're above industry averages and faster than our 2006 products. The memory footprint is between 10-15MB. On a 1GB file set, 2007 scans it in 2m15s, which is a 30-35% improvement over the 2006 version."
Symantec has also set more aggressive pricing. Previous versions of Norton AntiVirus always started at a firmly-set RRP and then dropped as the year went on, with plenty of retail discounting along the way.
For instance, NAV 2006 first landed at $99 but for the past six months has sat at $59.
NAV 2007 will carry a $59 sticker right out of the gate, benefiting from what Hall termed "some sharpening of the pencil".
While the $59 price covers the conventional 12 months of AV definitions and feature updates -- including a free "Windows Vista compatibility update" once the behemoth OS hits the streets in early 2007 -- Symantec will also offer a 'two year' update package for $79 which will include a full upgrade to NAV 2008 towards the end of next year.
"Now that we've moved onto a subscription models, as long as people keep their subscriptions current they'll be entitled to the latest versions" confirmed Hall.
NAV 2007 remains the cornerstone of Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2007 suite, which has also been stripped back to make it more system-friendly.
The Norton AntiSpam, Parental Control, Confidential Information Blocking and Ad Blocking modules which have been part of the NIS bundle since 2005 have been removed from the core NIS 2007 offering and relegated to a free NIS Add-on Pack for those who need them.
"The whole 2007 range has been improved to focus on today's threats such as phishing attacks and to fully protect people who do their shopping and banking online from fraudulent websites" stressed Hall.
"We're not saying that spam isn't a threat of today, but the true threat in spam is phishing attacks. If you have a look at spam and break it down there's malicious spam which is phishing attacks, and then there's the convenience of not having all that junk mail in there. Obviously there are still people who want to use AntiSpam or Parental Controls, so they're available in the free add-on pack."
This move marks the end of the line for the stand-alone Norton AntiSpam, which will no longer be available in its own right. Hall could not confirm if Norton Personal Firewall, which remains part of the core NIS 2007 suite but is currently parked at boxed version 2006, would also have a future on the shelves of software stores. NAV 2007 will land at $99, with a two-year subscription package at $129.
Joining NAV and NIS will be Symantec's first software-as-service product, Norton Confidential. This browser plug-in aims to identify and defeat what the company terms as 'transactional crimeware' such as phishing and spoofing attacks, along with trojans and keyloggers. The software is based on the work of Whole Security, which created the eBay Toolbar and was acquired by Symantec in September 2005.
Norton Confidential relies heavily on heuristics and live analysis of Web sites. This includes a cross-check of the URL, page layout and content elements against legitimate sites which have been authenticated by Symantec, in order to safeguard against online banking and shopping spoofs.
Some of the Norton Confidential technology appears in NAV 2007, and thus NIS 2007, but the full package sells for $79 as a 12 month subscription. While Norton Confidential will appear on store shelves in traditional retail packaging, "you won't be buying Norton Confidential 1.0 or Norton Confidential 2007" says Hall. "The ongoing subscription fee will include every update, from new definitions to whole new features".
A second wave of Norton products will arrive early in 2007, but these will be oriented a little more towards the PC system rather than pure security. First will be a 2007 issue of the Norton SystemWorks utility bundle, no doubt fully updated for Vista.
This will be followed by the debut of the Norton 360 online offering. Positioned as a 'consumer PC security service', Norton 360 will roll together everything from protection against viruses and spyware to online backup using a farm of super-sized Symantec servers.
Addendum: the changing face of Peter Norton over the years
Those with an eye for marketing will have noticed Symantec's ever-changing retail packaging to make their products more consumer-friendly.
||For the longest of times, their canary yellow Norton boxes bore the visage of the bespectacled Peter Norton standing in a confident and sometimes almost Superman-like pose.
||Perhaps tired of shelling out royalties for the use of Norton's mug, Symantec moved to generic objects: a stethoscope for AntiVirus, cogs for SystemWorks, a collander for AntiSpam.
||Seeking a more consumer-friendly image, the marketeers more recently introduced a theme of arms clasped protectively around everyday objects like folders, photos and laptops.
||Now they've pulled the camera back to focus on the person, but this time we're seeing friendly smiling clean-cut folk straight from Central Casting.
However, as far as we're concerned, nothing beats the 'Village People' approach of this ad campaign for the Norton 2000 range (we saw it only in Japan, on a hoarding outside the railway station at popular gadget town Akihabura in February 2000).
Here's a closer look. There's Peter Norton the cop, Peter Norton the construction worker, and what sure looks a cowboy Pete standing down the back. Instead of the Indian Chief and Leather Man we get what appears to be a cleaner (the dude with the mop, far-right) and an intern from Scrubs (in front of Peter the cleaner). They even threw in a fireman -- he's next to Cowboy Pete.