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Norton 2009 products open to public beta

Symantec unveils lighter and faster versions of its venerable security and antivirus products.

On Monday, Symantec opened two of its Norton 2009 products to public beta. Both Norton Internet Security 2009 and Norton Antivirus 2009 feature new code that not only makes the scans and services run faster, but consume fewer system resources, says Tom Powledge, vice president of consumer product management.

As an example, Powledge said that where Norton Internet Security 2006 consumed roughly 300MB of hard-disk space, the 2009 version is coming in around 100MB. Symantec has achieved this, in part, by reducing a number of redundancies introduced over the years. For example, previous versions of NIS contained multiple copies of the antivirus signature database.

For antivirus protection, faster and lighter has been achieved by focusing only on the files that have changed. As hard drives fill with digital photos and songs--files that typically do not change--Norton is able to mark them as trusted and then ignore them on subsequent scans. Powledge says this results in big gains in speed, reducing the time it takes to scan large drives.

Also, in order to keep up with the ever-changing malware loose on the Internet today, the 2009 products with be updated every 15 minutes or so with new signature files.

The public betas are available here. As with any beta software, you should make a full system backup first, and not run it on your main computer system.

Norton screenshot
Norton Internet Security 2009 features a new interface with most of the controls just one click away. (Click image for a slightly larger view.)