Norton security products are widely used, popular security solutions. The "Norton" name derives from Peter Norton who began developing software for the PC back in the days of DOS. Over the years, the brand has matured and, if Wikipedia is to be believed, Norton Internet Security has become Symantec's flagship product. I reviewed version 2007 of the software, though version 2008 was released in August of 2007.
I had some expectations, many of them poor, coming into the review. There has been a lot of press regarding the drag Norton Antivirus can be on systems and if you read a lot of troubleshooting websites, many times Norton products are at the root of connectivity issues. "Turn off Norton" is a popular recommendation of many network experts giving advice to frustrated newbies. I expected a bloated, sluggish (though visually appealing) package of software. I was pleasantly surprised. Not only is Internet Security not bloated (at least in terms of its runtime engines), but in modest testing I did, I encountered a negligible drag on the CPU. And, Norton Internet Security is easy on eyes.
Installation went smoothly and actually turned out to be one of the least annoying processes of the many security package installations I've tested. Uninstallation was smooth but didn't do a good job of cleaning up after the installer. Likewise, the product performed well in my testing. I did some semi-formal tests performing everyday tasks as well as doing informal testing (like playing music over a network with the scanners on). Norton performed well overall. The only noticeable performance impact was in the browser. Opening and closing Internet Explorer was detectably slower.
The feature set is broad and the Symantec engineers did a good job of designing the UI. The product includes one of the better firewalls I've tested, though I found the interface and options a bit too complex for the casual user. The antivirus and spyware utilities are easy enough to use and come with all the features one would expect from world-class software. The user interface hides the complexity at the surface but provides interfaces that will allow you to tweak to your heart's content. It was easier to get lost in Norton's interface than it was, say in the BitDefender product. This partly has to do with the depth of the features. But there were places where clicking on a link brought up a box with buttons where clicking one of the buttons brought you to a screen with more links, and so on. So, while the product is well endowed, it also may be too much for the casual user to handle. Power users will be thrilled. Help and support is solid with both online and offline help and context-specific guidance in key parts of the UI.