Yesterday Symantec launched their highly anticipated Norton 360 all-in-one security software package to Australian computer users. Before you ask -- no, you wouldn't be the first person to think of the Xbox 360 gaming console. Interestingly enough, while association may put the two in the same mental boat by name, the new Norton is in fact a direct competitor to Microsoft's OneCare security offering.
Norton 360 is a move away from the traditional software in a box mentality, to the point of almost moving into the software as a service realm by providing more than just a CD for your security dollars. Norton 360 has four focus areas specifically targeting: PC security, transaction security, backup and restore and PC tune-up for keeping your machine humming along nicely. Extra work has been put into making the product as user friendly as possible, and when things go wobbly, there's online instant messaging, e-mail or telephone tech support. You can even tick a box and let the operator take control of your PC to fix the problem if you're game.
The most unique feature, and potentially its biggest selling point to the mum and dad target audience is the inclusion of a 2GB encrypted online file locker that comes bundled for the purchase price of the application. Symantec is effectively taking the hard work out of offsite backup by throwing it in for nothing and integrating it into the suite. If you find your 2000 doting parent Kodak moments of Billy kicking his first soccer goal simply don't fit in the 2GB of storage, you can buy additional storage at the cost of AU$49.95 for 5GB, AU$79.95 for 10GB and AU$119.95 for 25GB per year. Realistically if you're just keeping essential documents such as financial statements, deeds or insurance policies, the 2GB is more than enough. If you want to make sure your media is backed up, you may want to spend a little more to know they're safe and accessible any time. Symantec pointed out that files will not be backed up indefinitely once your subscription ends, and strongly recommends you keep your agreement up to date lest your files disappear. Sounds a bit like file ransom to us. Keep paying the cash to keep your PC safe, or you'll never see your kid again!
Each copy of the software comes with three install licences, enough for a couple of machines in the home without ma and pa getting carted off to the big house for software piracy. Additional licensing can be purchased, with each key containing registration for three more machines.
Although slightly more expensive than some of its competitors, it's hard to deny the niche the Norton product is carving for itself by offering more than a single firewall/antivirus software product. While it remains to be seen whether or not customers will embrace the higher than average cost for extra features, for users after a total security package, Norton 360 certainly offers a few new tricks in a market full of old dogs.