We approached Norton 360 with some trepidation, as previous Symantec products have been large intrusive suites that take over your laptop without so much as a by-your-leave, but we were in for a pleasant surprise.
It seems Symantec has listened to its critics and has written 360 from the ground up, with new code and with a footprint that is minimal and barely scratches your system resources. Symantec has made a fair amount of noise about the intrusive nature of the UAC in Windows Vista and it has deliberately taken steps to reduce pop-up fatigue.
Even better, when you let your laptop lie idle you can actually hear Norton spring into action with a certain amount of disc thrashing; then when you move your mouse it falls silent and returns the resources to the rightful owner, namely you.
This comprehensive suite is a reasonable 51MB download. The installation routine requires you to create a Norton account, so you can bet you'll be nagged to renew your subscription when your year is up. Although the £60 (inc. VAT) price seems quite high, it covers three PCs or laptops; however, we note the Americans are charged a mere US$79.99.
During installation, 360 made a strong suggestion that we uninstall ZoneAlarm to avoid conflicts and then ran a quick scan to check our system was uninfected; once that was complete it scheduled a back-up of our data. The great standout part of the software is the interface, which uses a traffic lights system similar to the Windows Security Centre, so first-time users should feel comfortable using it.
The only obvious attempt to crowbar cash from your pocket is the online data storage service, as you only get 2GB of space unless you pay for extra storage. Other than that, it's all good news and 360 has indeed proved to be a turn in the right direction for Norton.