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Having improved a lot last year in Symantec's flagship antivirus product, it makes sense we'd see more modest enhancements for this year's Norton AntiVirus 2008. As we await final code and therefore test results on the overall performance of this year's version, the new interface and features alone do not suggest an automatic knockout in our latest antivirus roundup of 2008 products. Kaspersky Anti-Virus 7, the latest version of last year's Editors' Choice in this category, is looking pretty good as we continue to evaluate the rest of the field.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Symantec
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If first impressions are everything, Norton loses me at "Hello." The new interface design is dark and garish, almost a perverse joke on those who seek reassurance from security for their desktop. The use of ominious, thick black borders and orange graphics suggests Halloween, a look that could get old by March. Unlike Kaspersky and other antivirus apps, you can't change the look and feel of Norton AntiVirus 2008.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Symantec
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We're also not keen on the large, yellow block that says Norton in the task tray. While other vendors have icons, even icons that rotate or blink, we found the constant advertisement in the lower-right corner unnecessary and visually distracting.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Symantec
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Like Microsoft, which has moved away from letting the user control the Windows experience, Symantec limits (if not removes) the ability to customize and tweak individual settings, such as setting Norton to scan only new or recently modified files. Once you find the configuration settings and then drill down, you are often limited to enabling or disabling features, continuing with a practice adopted long ago by Symantec of making decisions for the user rather than presenting options.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Symantec
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Live Update, which used to be a separate process, is now integrated into Norton AntiVirus 2008, and it's about time. When you're asked to update, everything--program files and signature files--arrive on your desktop in much smaller packets, making the experience smoother and easier.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Symantec
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Our test results for Norton AntiVirus 2008 are pending, awaiting final code from Symantec. Informally, the scans were quick and didn't appear to impact the performance on our test machine.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Symantec
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The most significant new feature is network monitoring. Following advances made by Trend Micro and others in past years, Norton AntiVirus 2008 now allows you to remote monitor and, if necessary, runs scans on other Norton-protected computers on your network.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Symantec
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Symantec continues to improve its technical-support experience. Like last year, support options include an automatic diagnostic tool for the program, an online knowledge base and FAQs, free chat, and e-mail. At the time of this writing, we did not yet see telephone support options listed for Norton AntiVirus 2008.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:Symantec
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