As before, Norton AntiVirus 2008 remains purely a malware defence and hence offers protection against viruses, spyware and worms, whether they are browser- or email- or IM-borne. It now runs on XP or Vista only - if you have earlier Windows OS’s, Norton AntiVirus 2008 isn’t for you.
At £40, Norton AntiVirus 2008 might seem pricey, given that several of its rivals have price tags in the mid-twenties. However, this version does include two ‘additional bonus installs’, which means you can install it on three PCs, which makes it much better value. To this end, Norton AntiVirus 2008 now comes with a modicum of network AV management, allowing one PC to manage other Norton AntiVirus 2008 (or Norton Internet Security) installs on other network PCs, which could be very handy in family situations. Norton AntiVirus 2008 provides warnings only and doesn’t let you remotely fix any problems it detects. Norton AntiVirus 2008 also checks the status of wireless network security, alerting you if you connect to an unsecure wireless network.
As with Norton 360, Norton AntiVirus 2008 now sports a much-simplified Vista-friendly interface, though the sombre orange and black colour scheme may not be to everybody’s taste. Configuration is simple although the options available look like they’ve been curtailed in order not to scare novices. Norton AntiVirus 2008’s Help has had a makeover and is now much better arranged - you can now chat to a technician if you have a problem, though some support is now chargeable.
Its AV detection capabilities, already top notch, are significantly improved within Norton AntiVirus 2008. Borrowing a feather from Norton 360’s cap, Norton AntiVirus 2008 now deploys Symantec’s new heuristics-based SONAR technology. During scans, SONAR is able to detect suspicious behaviour and is thus much better able to deal with unknown threats. Thanks to another new component, Browser Defender, it is also much better able to cope with so-called ‘drive-by’ downloads although, curiously, Firefox isn’t currently supported.
Poor system performance was a major bugbear of previous versions of Norton AntiVirus, and Symantec has at long last responded by reducing the system overhead imposed by Norton AntiVirus 2008. Symantec claims better responsiveness, quicker boot times and shorter scan times and anecdotal experience points to being light on its feet. Scanning is never a particularly fast task and it took Norton AntiVirus 2008 134mins to scan some 965,000 files on my notebook. This amount to about 7K files per minute, which is quite creditable.
Norton AntiVirus 2008 continues the recent upwards trend. Its AV capabilities remain world-class (it's the only antivirus with over seven years of consecutive VirusBulletin 100 detection awards) and yet remain easy to use. A good choice for small family networks.