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PCAnywhere32 8.0 set to roll

Improved security, video chat, and support for Windows NT characterize the latest version of Symantec's remote access software.

Next week Symantec (SYMC) will debut the latest upgrade to its remote access software PCAnywhere32.

PCAnywhere32 8.0 includes Windows NT 4.0 support, a host conferencing package, and desktop video-chat software from White Pine Software. The video-chat software allows users to switch from a live remote-control session to a face-to-face video conferencing meeting with a click of an onscreen toolbar, the company said.

With version 8.0, caller security is integrated into the NT User Manager.

Version 8.0 employs Microsoft's Crypto API for security, including public key and symmetric-level encryption. It supports 40-bit and 128-bit key lengths, depending upon the cryptographic service provider (CSP) used, according to the company.

"The biggest area of difference from the last version is on the security side," said Symantec vice president of marketing development Michael Kerman. "We wanted to give people that peace of mind that it's safe to send their data over remote control."

Analysts see version 8.0 as a valuable tool for the growing number of mobile professionals.

Atlanta attorney, computer consultant, and HAM radio operator James Altman said he uses the software for many things. "Being self-employed, one has the tendency to work at home a lot. With PCAnywhere I can do that," he noted. Interestingly, Altman uses it frequently to adjust the HAM radio antenna atop the Nations Bank building in downtown Atlanta, which is controlled by a computer. "It beats going up to the roof of the building," he added.

Mobile professionals like Altman fall into a niche market that Symantec has really begun targeting, said industry analyst Ram Tackett of Currid & Company. "In the past, their product line was very spread out. Now we're seeing them focus in on the mobile professional, as demonstrated by this product."

Tackett said one of the features that makes this version better than the last is the bundling of all the Windows platforms. "As a package, that's nice and it offers diversity for the user. I also like the integration with NT. The same user account native to the NT is very useful."

PCAnywhere 8.0 is priced at $149 for a two-computer (host and remote) license, while users of previous versions can upgrade to version 8.0 for $79. The product will be available later this month.