ISSUE 523: New economy- Nov 2 1999
The high tech office
Norton turns in impressive updates to utility
Over the past two issues, we've been looking at
a number of utilities or pieces of software that help your computer run
better or help you accomplish some relatively minor, but often vital
task. So far, we've been looking at useful products from relatively
minor players in the software arena.
Symantec is the 800-pound gorilla of the
utility software market, an enterprise that's grown both by capturing
market share and by gobbling up other companies, including the Canadian
company Delrina, makers of WinFax and other utility products.
Recently, Symantec released new versions of its
best-known products for both PC and Mac -- after upgrading these same
titles just a few months ago. Let's take a look at the newest
generation. For the PC there is Norton Utilities 2000 and Norton
Antivirus 2000 (along with the utilities suite package Norton
Systemworks 2000) and, for the Mac, Norton Utilities 5.0 and Norton
Norton Utilities is one of the classic PC products. It
originated in the early 1980s when Peter Norton discovered that
deleted files weren't necessarily gone, but could often be revived in a
pinch. This simple but often job-saving trick created a utility
dynasty. The Norton Utilities set went through eight generations as a
DOS program and is now on its fifth rewrite for Windows 9x with a
separate product for NT.
Norton Utilities 2000 ($74.95; $44.95 upgrade) isn't
really a whole new generation. Under the covers it's referred to as
version 4.5. If you have the previous version, not much is new. It
does, however, work with hard drives larger than 20 gigs and includes a
beefed up Live Advisor function that uses the Net to check in with
Symantec for updates, news and tips.
The default installation wants to load a bunch of
system checkers that are always running in the background, ready to
warn if you're running low on drive space or other potential problems.
In earlier versions, having all these things running at once could
noticeably slow a computer down. The newer version is much less of a
resource hog. Still, I prefer choosing to leave them off except when I
want to check for problems. As well, I remain wary of the CrashGuard
utility included with NU2000, which promises to stop system crashes
before they occur. I find it causes at least as many problems as it
Despite this nitpicking, Norton Utilities remain an
important product for Windows users.
Norton Antivirus 2000 ($59.95; $29.95 upgrade) does
add some important functions. It can check e-mail and attachments as
you receive them. As well, it can check for viruses within compressed
files. Symantec releases new virus definitions every 15 days and the
program lets users know when it's time to update. With a single click
the program will go online, get the new definitions and update your
system automatically. By keeping users up to date, it's much less
likely that their systems will be infected. Highly recommended! The
package includes versions for DOS, Windows 3.1 and NT, along with the
95/98 version, though not all features are supported on all platforms.
Symantec bundles the Win95/98 versions of both of
these products, along with the uninstaller Cleansweep and a bunch of
other utilities into the SystemWorks 2000 suite, in two versions: an
$89.95 Standard version and a $149.95 Professional version. The higher
priced version adds Norton 2000 for checking Y2K problems and Norton
Ghost for backing up or cloning entire hard drives.
The Mac products don't get the trendy "2000" name and
in general offer fewer functions at higher prices than the PC
Norton Utilities 5.0 ($149.95; $74.95 upgrade)
continues to offer the core Norton Disk Doctor and Speedisk file
defragger of earlier versions, along with improved support for Apple's
HFS+ file system used with large hard drives, and support for Firewire,
a high-speed connection standard built into the newest Macs.
Norton Antivirus 6.0 does not include the e-mail
attachment checking of its new PC counterpart, which is too bad. While
there are far fewer viruses affecting Macs than PCs, Word and other
macro viruses can affect both platforms and are typically spread via
infected e-mail attachments. The program runs faster than earlier
versions and offers a simplified user interface.
Like the PC versions, both of Symantec's new Mac
versions include Live Update, an easy way to keep them up to date via
the Net. Unlike the PC Antivirus program, however, Mac Antivirus
program users have to remember to use it. There are no automatic
reminders. Perhaps Symantec assumes that Mac users are more organized
than their PC counterparts?
If you own an older Mac, don't even think of
upgrading, however. These products require a PowerMac. *