Yesterday I was having breakfast in Madrid, as you do, enjoying the 30 degree heat and the ice cold orange juice. I was also enjoying the opportunity to be my usual grumpy self and throw awkward questions in the direction of my breakfast companion, Con Mallon the Director of Regional Product Marketing, Symantec Consumer Business Unit. I tried to conceal my disbelief when Con, in response to my hackneyed 'does it uninstall cleanly' question, said it sure did. In just over a minute. "Go try it yourself" Con told me. So I did.
Unfortunately I had to wait until I had got back from Madrid, as my Acer Aspire One netbook has no optical drive. And anyway, I wanted to try it on a test machine that sees real world action amongst the security products of this world. Which knows how to make claims like 'it uninstalls cleanly' disappear in a puff of marketing promise.
But, you know what, I think I have to say that Con was right. That Norton has finally cracked the clean uninstall conundrum.
God knows it has taken long enough.
It has also taken more complaints than I can actually recall, both from the media and angry consumers.
And it for sure has taken plenty of broken promises from Symantec along the way. With every release of NIS journalists were told, both at launch events and at the technical review workshops we are sometimes invited to (my invites dried up long ago, no doubt courtesy of my asking the question a little too often, a little too loudly) that the uninstall problems had been worked on and were now a thing of the past.
But, I do believe, that Symantec has finally come up with a version of Norton Internet Security which uninstalls without leaving a scattergun wound across your entire system. No registry hooks waiting to catch on the next bit of security software you attempt to install. No background processes running so as to consume precious CPU cycles on the off chance that one day you might install another Norton product.
Nothing. Nada. And zilch for that matter.
Just your system as you left it before you installed Norton Internet Security 2009 in the first place.
But here comes the real ironic twist. Symantec has waited until it has a version of Norton Internet Security that you don't actually need to uninstall. NIS 2009 is actually really rather impressive, if my initial impressions are anything to go by.
Not only is it quick to install, in well under a minute from hitting the go button to being protected, but it doesn't smash into your system resource usage with a sledgehammer once it is up and running either. NIS 2009 has, it would seem, delivered upon the promise to be quicker, to be smaller and to be better.
It is too early for me to have put it through its paces in my own little security lab set up here at Chez Happy Geek, or for me to draw firm conclusions from the few hours it has been running on a sacrificial PC in the office. However, it did install quickly, it doesn't consume CPU cycles like a fat bloke at the all you can eat buffet, and it does scan really quite astonishingly quickly.
Above all else though, if it doesn't continue to deliver upon its promises, if it ever becomes the lipstick wearing pig that many have associated Norton Internet Security with in the past, then one thing is for sure: you can uninstall it without having to worry about what it leaves behind...