Norton SystemWorks upgrade big on safety

A seat belt can save your life, but only if you buckle up. In similar fashion, a PC protection program - anti-virus, anti-crash and disk utilities - can save your department or agency from unnecessary downtime and lost productivity. But the program will only work if you use it.

The key enhancements in Symantec Corp.'s latest version of Norton SystemWorks are aimed at ensuring that the program will be used.

The most obvious enhancement in the SystemWorks 2000 - which includes Norton Utilities, Norton AntiVirus, Norton CleanSweep and Norton CrashGuard - is a centralized interface. With Version 2.0 of SystemWorks, users still had to launch each product individually. SystemWorks 2000 offers a centralized Microsoft Corp. Outlook-like display from which users can access all the applications.

Even better, the display will show only installed applications, so users are not confused by grayed-out entries. And if future products are made available - either from Symantec or third parties - they also can be integrated into the SystemWorks interface.

In addition to providing a centralized point of access, Symantec has standardized the interface of each application so that it looks similar and works in like fashion to the other applications. That significantly shortens the learning time required of users and makes it more likely that the applications will be used.

Even the rescue disks have been integrated in this new version. Previously, users were advised to create two separate rescue disks: one for Norton Utilities and one for Norton AntiVirus. Unfortunately, users do not always know what has caused a system to crash, so they may not know which rescue disk to use.

That's why it's so helpful that the two rescue disks have been combined into one.

Some of the individual applications in SystemWorks also have been updated in this release.

Norton Utilities 2000 has received a speed boost and offers improvements in two of its utilities. SpeedDisk now is capable of optimizing the placement of files on disk and leaving free space after frequently accessed files. The result is less fragmentation of files over time.

The hardware diagnostics also have been rewritten to run under Microsoft Windows, rather than DOS, a change that means users are more likely to run the program more frequently.

Norton AntiVirus seems to have received the most attention in this update. NAV 2000 can scan e-mail and compressed files before the user accesses them, capabilities that are especially important in light of the increasing occurrence of Internet e-mail-borne viruses. And users are no longer dropped into a DOS dialog box when a virus is detected. Instead, as with the hardware diagnostics, repair options are presented in the familiar surroundings of the Windows graphical user interface.

Norton CleanSweep 2000 and Norton CrashGuard 2000, the two other major modules of the suite, are largely unchanged in terms of functionality. Both applications have, however, been redesigned to offer interfaces consistent with the other applications in the suite.

SystemWorks is further enhanced by two features that take advantage of the Internet. First, the suite offers a six-month subscription to Norton Web, a slick online support site. Most notable on the site is LiveAdvisor, a virtual meeting place where users can find out about bugs, viruses and updates. Symantec will push appropriate alerts and messages to users depending upon their user profiles.

Finally, SystemWorks 2000 also utilizes Symantec's LiveUpdate feature, which enables users to update program code and virus definitions in virtually hands-off fashion via the Internet.

SystemWorks 2000 was released last month. The Professional Edition of the program, slated to ship this month, will include all the applications offered by the Standard Edition and Norton Ghost 2000, a disk imaging package, and Norton 2000, Symantec's Year 2000 package.

SystemWorks 2000 was designed for Windows 95/98, and some of the applications - including Norton Utilities 2000 - will not run on Windows NT or the soon-to-be-released Windows 2000. Still, for those in your department running supported versions of Windows, SystemWorks offers Symantec's tried-and-true PC protection tools in a package that is easier than ever to use.

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Symantec Corp.(408) 253-9600www.symantec.com

Price and AvailabilityThe Standard Edition is available on the open market for $60. The Professional Edition is available for $100 on the open market.

RemarksNorton SystemWorks 2000 offers Symantec's suite of powerful PC protection tools in a new centralized interface that is very easy to use.

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