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Symantec discontinues Norton Utilities, SystemWorks for the Mac; will continue updating for Panther; no Mac OS X 10.4 updates

Symantec discontinues Norton Utilities, SystemWorks for the Mac; will continue updating for Panther; no Mac OS X 10.4 updates

Symantec is discontinuing feature development (not support) and marketing for Norton Utilities and SystemWorks.

Symantec representative Michael Romo, who provides assistance in the MacFixIt-Symantec forum, had this to say:

"The rumor is true. We are no longer actively developing new versions of Norton Utilities and, since Norton Utilities makes up a large part of Norton SystemWorks, we are discontinuing that package as well.

"Here is what is happening:

  • We are going to continue to update Norton Utilities (and, by association, Norton SystemWorks) to make it FULLY COMPATIBLE with Mac OS X 10.3. We will continue to support current Macintosh systems. If Apple releases a machine that demands a new CD, we will look at the situation on a case by case basis.
  • We will continue to sell Norton SystemWorks and Norton Utilities for the foreseeable future. Remember, we are committed to supporting Panther.
  • We are still actively developing Norton AntiVirus for the Macintosh, Panther and beyond. Same thing goes for Norton Internet Security and Norton Personal Firewall.

"What about support and virus definitions? We will continue to offer customer and technical support for these products. Symantec will continue to offer antivirus subscriptions to Norton AntiVirus for Macintosh users, regardless of whether the product was purchased as a standalone or as part of a product suite, such as Norton SystemWorks.

"Why is this happening? The decision to discontinue these products based on Symantec's strategic desire to focus on Internet security solutions, including Norton AntiVirus and Norton Internet Security. "

Norton Utilities has long been a staple of the Macintosh troubleshooter's toolbox, but the last release of repair/optimization suite, version 8.0, carried some significant problems (see previous MacFixIt reports: kernel panics, installation failure, large disk limitation)

The last major functionality addition to the Norton Utilities/SystemWorks package was Volume Recover, an application supports Disk Doctor by giving the user the ability to create an new directory from a damaged/wonky volume, go through a "preview" version of the directory, and then write this new directory to disk.

Symantec is apparently still actively developing and supporting Norton AntiVirus for the Macintosh, recently (April 9th) issuing a virus definition update to address the MP3Concept vulnerability.

Symantec also continues to publish Norton Internet Security and Norton Personal Firewall for Mac OS X.

UPDATE: Q&A with Symantec Product Manager MacFixIt Contributing Editor and founder Ted Landau conducted a question and answer session with Nancy Mohler, confirming earlier information and revealing that no updates for Mac OS X 10.4 compatibility will likely be released:

I contacted Symantec regarding the reported demise of Norton Utilities for the Mac. Nancy Mohler, Symantec?s senior product manager, kindly replied to my questions. In brief, Symantec confirmed that there will be no further development of Norton Utilities and SystemWorks. They will continue support for the existing product to assure compatibility with the present and all future versions of Panther. However, it appears they will not upgrade Norton Utilities, if needed, to make it compatible with Apple's eventual release of Mac OS X 10.4.

Q. What is the status of Norton Utilities for the Macintosh?

A. Symantec made the strategic decision to discontinue development of Norton Utilities for Macintosh and Norton SystemWorks for Macintosh.

Q. What about other products for the Mac?

A. Symantec remains committed to the Macintosh platform and is actively working on development of enhanced Internet security solutions to support the Mac operating system.

Q. What about the Windows version of Norton Utilities?

A. Symantec does not have any plans to discontinue Norton SystemWorks for the PC platform and is continuing to actively develop new problem solving products and solutions for Windows users.

Q. What about support for the current version of Norton Utilities? Will you continue with bug-fix and compatibility upgrades?

A. Symantec will continue to meet market demand for Norton Utilities 8.0 for Macintosh and Norton SystemWorks 3.0 for Macintosh and will continue to manufacture these products for an unspecified length of time. Symantec will maintain its commitment to supporting the current Mac operating system ? Mac OS 10.3 (Panther), as well as any future releases of Panther (10.3.x). Norton Utilities for Macintosh and Norton SystemWorks for Macintosh also support all current Macintosh hardware.

Symantec will also continue to offer customer and technical support for Norton Utilities for Macintosh and Norton SystemWorks for Macintosh. The duration for which support for these products will be available has yet to be determined and will depend largely on the duration for which these products are sold in retail outlets.

Q. What was the reason behind this decision? Declining sales? Or something else?

A. Symantec?s decision to discontinue development of its utility and problem solving products for the Macintosh is not a reflection of declining revenue. It is also not a reflection of a lack of customer need. The decision was based solely on the strategic desire to focus Macintosh development resources on Internet security solutions.

A personal note: Norton Utilities for the Macintosh (which was originally called Symantec Utilities for the Macintosh or SUM) is one of the oldest Mac utilities still on the market. Over the years, Symantec maintained its dominance in the repair utilities field partly because Norton Utilities was simply a very good product and partly because Symantec acquired (and thus eliminated) competing products (such as MacTools and Public Utilities). However, with the release of Mac OS X, Norton Utilities began to decline. There were frequent compatibility problems as well as a very un-OS X-like installation procedure (that placed Norton files in numerous obscure locations around the drive, making it difficult to uninstall the software). Postings on Web forums often complained that running Norton was more likely to harm a drive than fix it. True or false, these postings tarnished the product's reputation. In addition, Alsoft's DiskWarrior became generally regarded as a superior product. After running Apple's own Disk Utility and DiskWarrior, it would be rare that a problem would not get fixed. And even rarer that Norton Utilities' Disk Doctor could fix any problem that did remain. Norton Utilities included other utilities besides Disk Doctor, such as Speed Disk and UnErase. But Disk Doctor was still the main reason to purchase or not purchase Norton Utilities. Despite these problems, it is still sad to see such a long-time presence on the Mac say goodbye. A moment of silence please.

Feedback? Late-breakers@macfixit.com.

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