Missing is Norton Anti-Bot, a standalone application that helps protect PCs from Trojans associated with botnets. Symantec still does not include this product within any of its security suites and sells Norton Anti-bot separately for $29.99.
In terms of protecting your PC, we cite results from two leading independent antivirus testing organizations. In the latest test results from AV-Comparatives.org, for on-demand scans the previous version Norton AntiVirus 2007 earned an Advanced + (the highest) rating, catching 98 percent of all malicious software tested; and for the Retrospective/Proactive test, the previous version of Norton AntiVirus 2007 earned an Advanced (second-highest) rating, detecting almost half the back doors, Trojans, and other malicious software sampled. Norton AntiVirus 2007 received a Standard rating from CheckVir.com, meaning only the virus searching capability was examined.
For antispyware protection, Norton fell from last year's heights but remained solidly in the middle of the pack in our CNET antispyware tests. CNET labs conducts three separate tests using spyware found to be bundled within free applications rejected by CNET Download.com (as a policy, Download.com does not host any applications containing known spyware). In the first test, active detection, Norton discovered about 60 percent of the spyware; in the second, on-demand test, Norton detected about 55 percent of the spyware; and in the final, removal test , Norton removed all traces of about half the spyware placed on our infected machine.
While Symantec continues to improve its technical support experience, they've also taken a few steps back by making access difficult. In Windows Vista, we found we needed administrator's privileges to access technical support. We then needed to install the latest version of Adobe Flash. Worse, to proceed even to look up a help file online, we needed to provide our name, our e-mail address, and phone number. We think that's extreme, given that we filled out that when we wanted to tweak a firewall setting. There are a series of canned FAQs, but none of these addressed our question. Back at the home page, we found a section for user manuals. Here, again, we were prompted to download and install the latest version of Adobe Reader. Time lapsed: 10 minutes.
Once downloaded, the 44-page PDF user's manual addresses how to install the product, not necessarily how to use it such as in tweaking our firewall setting.
If the automated assistance hasn't helped, nor the documents, there's one final option: talk to Symantec directly.
By clicking Contact Us you must provide your name, e-mail and phone number (unless you did so before). Then you must state what your problem is by using a drop-down menu. Then, you will be given three options--live chat, e-mail, or telephone support. Choosing telephone support, you will be presented with a list of geographic locations, and then, finally, a toll-free number for support. At no point were we informed of any potential charges, unless we read the 44-page PDF manual carefully. Nonpremium telephone support from Symantec costs $9.95 per call.
There, Symantec writes that if step-by-step assistance, online chat, or e-mail doesn't resolve your issue, you can always call their telephone technical support using the Contract Us link. The manual goes on to state that Symantec will "pay for complimentary support and will pay for support in accordance with the most current customer support policy of (sic) Symantec." At that site, however, Symantec writes that for Norton 360: "Complimentary online documentation and live support through chat, email or phone for installation and known issues. Other phone support issues are charged a fee." In other words, for a question about a firewall setting you have to pay for the telephone support.
Symantec offers a more direct route through the "Norton Premium Services" section where expert technical support can cost up to $99.95 (that's a flat fee) per call, although we could find no mention of that anywhere on the Symantec Web site. Under Premium Services are three options: Spyware and Virus Removal ($99.95), Expert Installation ($39.95), and PC Tune Up. In the PC Tune Up ($69.95) scenario, you call up, are charged, and a Symantec technician remotely accesses your PC to resolve any problems you might be having at that time. Symantec claims that 40 percent of its customers expressed interest in premium services in a recent survey, but we think you can probably find free help by doing a Google search for your specific error message or problem. Unlike Microsoft, Symantec doesn't yet maintain its own free users forum.
Our installation on a very clean Windows Vista system occurred without fail and performed as advertised. However, installing Norton 360 v2 on older systems may incite trouble. We're not happy with the technical support offered for Norton 360 v2, especially the paid services that appear to be superior to the free services offered.