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McAfee to compensate home users for bad update

Home users affected by McAfee's virus update fiasco last week may be entitled to compensation, according to the company. But no word yet on whether that also applies to business customers.

McAfee is promising to reimburse home customers hit by last Wednesday's faulty virus update, which hosed tens of thousands of computers.

Facing complaints and questions from people whose PCs crashed or kept rebooting as a result of the buggy update, McAfee formally apologized in an official blog last Friday. But now the company has gone a step further.

McAfee is committing to reimburse home and home office customers for any money they spent to fix their PCs as a result of the problem. Details are sketchy now, but the company is hoping people will sit tight for a few more days until more information is available.

"If you have already incurred costs to repair your PC as a result of this issue, we're committed to reimbursing reasonable expenses," promised McAfee in a special announcement for home and home office users. "Steps to process your reimbursement request will be posted in the next few days. Please check back here in a few days."

And for loyal customers whose PCs were impacted but plan to stick with McAfee, the company has promised to extend their antivirus subscriptions for another two years free of charge.

McAfee home page points to latest details about its security update problem.
McAfee home page points to latest details about its security update problem.

The problem started last Wednesday at 6 a.m. PDT when McAfee released a bad DAT update to its antivirus software that incorrectly targeted svchost.exe, a key Windows system file, as a virus. The update, which sneaked past the company's internal testing, clobbered PCs running Windows XP with Service Pack 3.

In response, McAfee released a patch called SuperDAT Remediation Tool early Thursday morning to fix the bad update and restore the svchost.exe file. Instructions for applying the fix are available for home and home office users and business customers.

In its latest announcement, McAfee also explained the steps to follow for customers who are still out of commission. Anyone who needs help can call a local toll free support number where a technician will try to get your PC up and running. If that fails, the company will send you the patch via a software download or on a CD through postal mail.

Home and home office users may be able to receive compensation for damages, but what of corporate customers? McAfee's announcement for companies explains the steps to fix the problem for those that use its VirusScan Enterprise or Total Protection Service product. But so far, no mention of reimbursement for the many businesses that were impacted.

The buggy update affected business customers around the world, including chipmaker Intel, the Kentucky police, and several Rhode Island hospitals that were forced to juggle surgeries and turn away non-trauma patients.

We'll provide more details and updates on McAfee's reimbursement policy as they become available.