Symantec Launches ‘Windows 8 Beta-Ready’ Security Software, Adds More For Android & Mac

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On Wednesday, Symantec rolled out three new additions to its soup-to-nuts security sofware offerings: the “Windows 8 beta-enabled” Norton 360 version 6; Norton 360 Everywhere, for Windows PCs, Macs, and Android mobile devices; and Norton One, a brand new suite with “premium” support and a guarantee that customers won’t experience telephone hold times of more than two minutes.

Norton 360 version 6, a product available immediately, will later be upgradeable through a software download to support Windows 8 beta edition whenever Microsoft moves Windows 8 out of its current alpha pre-release testing into the beta stage, said Collin Davis, senior director of engineering, in a briefing for NotebookReview.

“We’re making it a priority to [do] whatever updates are necessary to maintain compatibility with all Windows 8 beta product builds,” according to Davis.

Like its precedessor, Norton 360 version 5, the new N360 v6 includes the same features as Norton Internet Security (NIS), while adding online storage. Version 6 also folds in a number of improvements made in the recently released NIS 2012, such as lower performance impact, automatic error recovery, a new metering capability for bandwidth usage, and cloud synchronization for Identity Safe, Symantec’s “secure vault” for user passwords and other sensitive information.

Also new in the latest gen of Norton products is the Norton Management Portal, providing users with a centralized place for tasks like downloading Norton software updates, managing their software subscriptions, and installing and uninstalling the software.

Cloud-based and outfitted with remote management capabilities, the new portal can be used either locally while sitting in front of a PC or in a remote location like the office, Davis said. Customers can also get help with these tasks over the Web from tech savvy friends or family members situated just about anywhere.

Norton 360 Everywhere: For PCs, Macs & Android (but not iOS)

Another new offering, Norton 360 Everywhere, combines Norton 360 Premier on the Windows side, Norton Internet Security for Macs, and Norton Mobile Security for Android, a product supporting Android phones and tablets up through Android 4.0 (“Ice Cream Sandwich”). Customers purchase a single license key for use wih any combination of either three or five PCs or other devices.

Unlike competing products from McAfee and Kaspersky, support for mobile devices in Norton 360 Everywhere is limited right now to Android. Although neither McAfee All Access nor Kaspersky One supports Apple iOS, both support BlackBerry and Symbian devices. Kaspersky adds Windows Phone to the mix, too.

Davis noted, however, that last week Symantec launched a beta test for its “first product for iOS.” The new Identity Manager for Mobile uses a Symantec-devised mobile browser to support both Android devices and iOS-driven iPhones, iPads and iPods, he said. Separate beta apps are available for each of the two mobile OS.

Also last week, Symantec separately introduced a kids’ monitoring app known as Norton Safety Minder for Android OS. At the time, Yvonne Gee, a Symantec senior product manager at Symantec, told NotebookReview’s sister publication Brighthand that Symantec has been trying to extend similar types of protections to Apple iOS devices. “We’re working with Apple through our iOS development agreement,” she elaborated.

Symantec will also continue to look at the possibility of supporting other mobile platforms, such as Windows Phone, Davis said this week. Meanwhile, though, Windows 8 — an environment that Symantec does plan to support, even in beta — is set to run on ARM-based tablets in addition to Intel-based PCs. Windows 8 will also come with a somewhat controversial built-in Microsoft security suite dubbed Windows Defender.

Norton One: Same Product with a Simpler UI & ‘Elite’ Member Support

The new Norton One, on the other hand, will include the same three products embodied in Norton Everywhere, but with a different and simplified UI, “easy set-up, fast friendly service, personalized communications, proactive help, and exclusive member offers,” said Jody Gibney, group product manager at Symantec, also during this week’s briefing.

Gibney contended that Norton One — an offering modeled somewhat after loyalty programs provided by credit card companies and airlines, for instance — will offer a level of “elite member support” which is unprecedented in the security software industry.

Symantec’s research among customers shows that many of them “want a solution to manage the complexities and make it hassle-free,” according to Gibney.

“They’re looking for a ‘tech guy.’ They’re saying, ‘I need someone I can call, any time, who can deal with all this stuff for me so I don’t have to do it myself.'”

Further, while customers tend to equate “subscription” with “transaction,” a “membership” model carries much better connotations with consumers, she said.

Symantec’s rivals won’t be able to imitate the program, she said, because Symantec has spent the past two years building up a one-of-a-kind “infrastructure” to support it.

Norton One customers will be able to access customer support through a choice of live chat, quick call back, or connection to a support rep by placing a call over the phone.

As one perq, Symantec will gurarantee that customers will never stay “on hold” — or wait for a call back — for more than two minutes.

Also according to the group product manager, customers will get routed rapidly to appropriate specialists on the support team, without needing to repeat information such as their names or case numbers every time around. 

Norton 360 version 6 is priced at $89 for a three PC license with 2GB of online storage and $99 for three PCs with 25GB of online storage. For its part, Norton One will be priced at $149.99.

Symantec plans to launch an invite-only pilot test of Norton One this week, with general availability scheduled for March 22.

The company hasn’t yet announced pricing for N360 Everywhere, or a specific release date either (although release is slated for some time this spring). Gibney told NotebookReview, however, that N360 will be sold at a lower price point than Norton One.




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