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Today's Norton antivirus: unusable by normal humans

Today's Norton antivirus: unusable by normal humans

"When you have a few minutes," my father asked me on the phone last night, "could you help me with my antivirus stuff?" The trial version of Norton AntiVirus 2006 on his three-month-old Lenovo laptop was expiring, and he was bit confused by the upgrade warning, so he wanted me to help him through the transition. One of the options was to upgrade to Norton AntiVirus 2007, for $39 (after the $10 promotional coupon he got in e-mail). Sounded good to me.

"Sure," I said. "It should only take a few minutes." I took control of his computer via LogMeIn and set to work.

Nearly an hour and a half later, hungry and irritated, I hung up and disconnected. The upgrade was complete. My father said, "I could not have done this without you." He was right, and that's why I was mad.

The upgrade required a complete uninstallation of the the 2006 product, which took a good 10 or 15 minutes and required a reboot. The download and installation of the 2007 version took nearly an hour itself and required its own reboot. It also asked for registration information that duplicated the info my father had given when he bought the new software online, leading him to think he was starting over. There were choices to make that he didn't understand and offers for products he didn't need. At several times during the process the computer appeared to be locked, and my father was tempted to turn it off and reboot. Before we said our good-byes, my bewildered father said to me, "Can't you write something about this? Make them change?"

So this is for you, Dad.

For everyone else: Nobody should have to deal with this. When the antivirus subscription that came with your PC expires, don't immediately jump to renew or upgrade what you have. There may be a better product out there. Also, the next time you're thinking of getting a new computer, take a serious look at the Macintosh.