McAfee’s loss – and it has been mislaying a number of top execs in the last year – turns out to be Webroot’s gain. The company has a new CEO, Peter Watkins, onetime McAfee COO no less.

We don’t normally write about appointments, unless they happen to be of the potentially epoch-changing type, i.e Ray Ozzie taking over at Microsoft, but Webroot is one to watch. Most security companies bang on about how great their technology and detection rates are, as if the average business admin or consumer understands or cares what they’re talking about.

Detection rates are all very well, but one of the biggest flaws in most security programs is their crappy interface. Crappy interfaces aren’t an aesthetic issue in security – they can lead to dangerous levels of misunderstanding.

Kaspersky Lab has a high-rated product, for instance, but it looks like the back end of a Russian T-72 tank in ways that stop me recommending it for the ordinary computer user who needs clear and unambiguous “this is what just happened” direction. All of which is a lead-up to me saying that Webroot’s Spysweeper software is a Karmann Ghia by comparison, just about the clearest design of any product aimed at non-sociopaths.

Boulderites (Webroot is based in the Colorado college-to-software town) used to be famous for their disdain both for the rest of “right-wing” Colorado and just about anyone from California. Since Webroot has offices in both states, working there must be interesting. Or perhaps the Californians won, and all the hippies have long since trundled out of Boulder in decrepit VWs, passing the richer flatlanders in their Jeep Cherokees going the other way.

We’ll watch Webroot’s morph from spyware company to security player with interest. You’ll know things have gone well by the price Symantec or McAfee pays for it.