Norton 360 6 Beta provides a first look at the next generation of Symantec's do-everything security suite.

What's new? The Norton site claims the beta offers "our best protection and performance ever" and "improved local or secure online backups", but there are no specifics yet.

Still, there are plenty of existing features to build on: a strong antivirus engine; an intelligent firewall; a capable spam filter; excellent password management; identity protection; local and online backup, a decent selection of performance-boosting PC optimisation tools, and more.

Most of these components don't require any setup: the firewall, for instance, will work correctly for most people right away. But if you do need more control, heading off to the Firewall section of the Settings dialog reveals a host of useful options which you can tweak to suit your needs.

Of course, as a first beta, Norton 360 6.0 isn't yet to be fully trusted. The program worked well for us, but it will have bugs - don't install the program on any system unless it's fully backed-up.

Please note, you should create an account with Norton before downloading the software. Symantec will then email you the product key you'll need to activate it (If you'd rather not provide your details then you can skip this step, but the program will only run for a week).

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The first beta of Norton 360 6.0 looks and feels very similar to the previous edition, but it does at least seem quite stable. If you're a Norton 360 fan then take a look, see if you can spot any new features