Symantec to post Norton patch

The utility software maker will post a patch to fix at least two problems with its Norton Utilities 3.0 software.

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Utility software maker Symantec (SYMC) next week will post a patch to fix at least two problems with its Norton Utilities 3.0 software, a company executive said today.

The fix, in the form of a "Live Update" that users can download from the Symantec Web site, will address a major bug in the program's Optimization Wizard that has wiped out several users' Windows registries. A second bug, which caused NU 3.0 to crash when its splash screen is displayed, also will be fixed by next week's Live Update, Symantec vice president and chief technical officer Enrique Salem said.

The company also will try to include a fix for incompatibilities between the Norton Speed Start utility and VirusScan, security software from rival company McAfee (now known as Network Associates). It's unclear, however, if testing will be completed in time, Salem said. The products conflict when a VirusScan user changes the program's default settings to scan all files on the computer.

Norton's Optimization Wizard speeds up boot time by compressing Windows registries. The wizard backs up a user's registry, but in certain situations the registry becomes damaged. Despite the severity of the problem, Salem claims only 40 users have reported it.

Company engineers have traced the splash screen problem to a bug in a Diamond Multimedia graphics driver, which cannot display the current NU 3.0 elliptical splash screen. Diamond is working to fix the driver, but in the meantime, Symantec will change the shape of the splash screen.

Until the patch is posted next week--Wednesday at the latest, according to Salem--Norton users can disable the screen through the Norton Integrator control panel, and thus avoid crashes.

Next week's Live Update will be a "superset" that encompasses a first set of bug fixes the company posted approximately three weeks ago. A list of those fixes was not immediately available, but Salem said that information will be available on Monday.