: You get less, for less. Norton AntiVirus 2011 offers the same core high-quality computer and networking protection features as its more full-featured sibling, Norton Internet Security, but it lacks some key Web protection features that users shouldn't really go without.
For the second year in a row, Norton's former sluggish beast now offers a smooth and fast installation operation. Once you run the installer, the program is ready to operate in about a minute--impressively fast, and doubly so considering past performance. The installation process is also the first time that you will interact with Quorum, Norton's behavior-based detection engine. You'll be asked to participate by sending anonymous data to Symantec's cloud. Opting out of the data submission, according to Symantec, will not affect your security.
Running the trial of Norton also requires registering the program. Like many programs, Norton used to force open your default browser and take you to the company's registration Web site. One of the new features in Norton AntiVirus 2011 is that the program comes with a Web interface for your desktop. Users first encounter this when registering, but it pops up in regular program usage as well, keeping users from being forced to open their browsers to manage certain Web-based features. Uninstalling the software left about 10 Registry entries behind, but no other traces were detectable. Overall, Norton's installation experience was fast and hassle-free, with a minimum of configuration options--but the ones that did come up appeared necessary.
Norton AntiVirus 2011 contains some changes to its interface, although the design is heavily reminiscent of the previous version. It keeps the dark theme, punctuated by yellow text, but moves the large graphic security status indicator from the main interface window up to the taskbar and system tray icons. As long as you don't mind the lack of empty space in the interface, it works quite well.
Tour Norton Internet Security 2011 (screenshots)
Security controls have been condensed into two sections in the main window: computer protection and network protection. To the right of each category is a series of controls, which by default are all active. Click on one, and its gold indicator moves to the right and changes color to red to show that it's been deactivated. A window then pops up, asking for how long you'd like to deactivate the service. This cleverly resembles Windows 7's "postpone reboot" option for system updates, so even novice users should find it recognizable. Click on the name of a control, such as SONAR protection, and a pop-up appears summarizing what the feature does.
Below each category are several controls specific to that area of protection. So, under computer protection, there are text buttons for instantly initiating a scan, for forcing a virus database update, for accessing your History or Quarantine, and for viewing Application Ratings.
At the bottom of the interface is a wide, short map of the world covered with blinking yellow dots. Each one, according to Symantec, represents a threat to one of its users that has been successfully blocked. The visual is cute, but completely irrelevant to your personal safety. More interesting is that below the map there are two mobile-app-style buttons, one for Norton Online Backup and one to return to the map without having to jump into your browser.
Features and support
There aren't many new features in Norton AntiVirus 2011, or even new major features. What's changed is in how Norton presents its features--across the board the program is easier to navigate--and how the features operate.
The reputation-based security checks where your programs were installed from and when they were installed, and compares that data against the 58 million users participating in the crowd-sourced Norton Community Watch to see if any of your programs should be red-flagged. Norton's System Insight component has been bumped up to version 2.0, which is the proprietary internal network that warns you when your programs unnecessarily hog system resources. This gives some extra heft to the system performance map, where you can click on any spike and see what caused it.
The second iteration of Download Insight applies the same reputation-based logic to new downloads, and the third version of Norton SONAR (Symantec Online Network for Automatic Response) looks for suspicious software behavior and automatically chooses protective actions. You can toggle how aggressive SONAR is in the Settings window.
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