Norton today released an updated version of its Norton 360 desktop and mobile security software, while also rolling out a new licensing arrangement for combined PC, Mac, and Android use.
In addition, Norton announced a novel plan for a new kind of customer support called "Norton One" that involves individualized unlimited assistance for customers who are mystified by computers, security, and software -- if they're willing to pay the annual membership fee.
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Symantec's Norton 360 v. 6, available for Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7, is desktop security combining network intrusion prevention, Norton's "Sonar" behavior-based protection, its "Insight" reputation analysis for malware, an anti-virus engine, and Web-based anti-phishing protection, among other features. The latest version of Norton 360 adds bells and whistles, such as the introduction of a Web portal so customers can access passwords they commonly use anywhere. Its "Download insight" capability, which had been in beta, will give users feedback on how safe it is to download a file.
There are now bandwidth controls to allow the user to monitor and control how mobile broadband, which is often metered by the provider, might be used, among other network services. And in another change, a so-called "self-healing" feature will now be apparent to the user as a green dialog box from Norton, which may appear, when needed, to say it has detected a unique error code in the user's machine and is applying an auto-fix correction to Norton 360 to adjust for it.
"These are probably errors unique to your environment," says Collin Davis, senior director of engineering at Norton. He says "there are a lot of idiosyncrasies that come up" that Norton will tackle with a minor custom build to Norton 360 v. 6 to correct the glitch. Norton has found this is needed because customers use such a wide range of computers and software these days that making use of the new auto-fix will quickly solve issues that distract users, plus minimize call volumes for tech support. This autofix is distinct from any general patch updates that might occur.
Microsoft Windows 8 is not yet out -- it's not exactly clear when it will be but a beta is expected soon with year-end general release -- but Norton is working closely with Microsoft to make sure that Norton 360 v. 6 will be able to run on Windows 8. "Microsoft has given us internal preview builds," Davis says, adding at this point Norton is highly confident that if someone bought Norton 360 v. 6 now, it would work on Windows 8 when it's available.
Norton 360 v. 6 costs $89 for up to three devices.