NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
Caveat Emptor...
Judy Lococo, APCUG, March 2002
(click to email author)

I recently replaced an old computer with a brand, new, sparkling, whisper-quiet Pentium 4 speed demon. I asked the vendor to install Windows XP Professional, and I subsequently installed Office XP Professional. There was no other software on this "clean" machine, but because I have a local area network with another machine in the office, and the other machine is connected to an ADSL line, I decided I needed a firewall and an antivirus package on the new machine, too.

Symantec has always had my Antivirus (AV) software protection of choice, and although there have been a few problems with their products along the way, it was never enough of an irritation to provoke an article. But Norton Internet Security 2002 most definitely is. It is supposed to include a personal firewall to defend against crackers, antivirus protection, privacy control to keep your personal information private, and a parental control to keep your children safe on the Internet. It looks very similar to previous releases of Norton Internet Security (2000 and 2001), which I've used on other machines running Windows 95/98 and Windows NT Workstation 4.0, but the previous versions are not compatible with Windows XP. So I installed the latest version to protect my new workhorse.

The installation was not fun, and contained several error messages stating that some script or other was not able to run & did I wish to continue. I was finally able to reach the end of the line, and was prompted to restart the computer, and run a Live Update as soon as possible. My computer restarted, and then it restarted, and then it restarted again, and finally restarted again. I was wondering if I would ever be able to keep it on long enough to see the splash screen! But I did finally get to see the XP screen again, and noticed that the antivirus icon on the taskbar had a big red "X" through it. Being such a good little girl, and always doing as I'm told, I started the Live Update, thinking possibly this was why the icon was inactive. But the software did not even try to update the antivirus definitions, and even after asking for all the latest bells and whistles Symantec had, it still was not enabled. I tried to enable the AV and it refused from any point I tried. After several hours of trying to get this product to work properly, and calling in the mounties (AKA resident Alpha Geek) to try to make it work properly, I gave up in exasperation.

My next strategy was to uninstall the program, as everyone knows by now that you cannot install one AV over another, and just maybe I could re-install the software and overcome the problems with the initial install. But it refused to let me uninstall it, saying I had to disable the antivirus part of it first. But I could not do that anywhere that I could find, as all it would do was inform me that it was already disabled. Finally, the Alpha Geek was able to convince the software through the XP side of things that, indeed, the antivirus had been disabled. However, this was all for naught, as it now said I could not uninstall it unless I logged in through the "Supervisor" account. There _was_ no supervisor account! There were only two accounts on this machine, my account, and a guest account.

Panic. Desperation. Anger at a company who had always been a trusted friend, and now was just a shareholder's country club. Finally, disgust at what choices I now had because of one piece of buggy software that was not ready for prime time.

I logged onto Symantec's web page to look for some tech support. After searching through all the FAQ's, and finding nothing that resembled the problems I encountered, I tried to contact them with a personal message. But there didn't seem to be any place to reach them with a personal message, only a "forum" where others could post their requests as well. So I left a public message in the forum, asking for guidance on how to uninstall Norton Internet Security 2002.

I did find a LOT of other messages from people who were having similar problems. Only a handful of them had any replies, and those replies basically said to use a file on their website to uninstall the software. But to do that, one had to hack the registry in order to disable the antivirus, etc., and the solution was quite convoluted. Definitely not for the fainthearted, and definitely not something you wanted to do to a brand-new computer. And the replies to previous messages were the standard party line, even after some of the participants explained that their party line did not work either. FWIW, the solution utility posted on their website was _not supported_ by Symantec, so if you chose to uninstall the software, using the files off their website, you did so at your own risk.

I finally received a response from Aaron at Symantec. I got the same party line spiel that all the others did, which means I will have to spend a lot of time getting my machine back to a point where I can use it. So basically, they have wasted a lot of my time, and $60.00 of my money to tell me that I now have to do it myself. Hmmm. I believe they are the ones who caused it, why aren't they the ones cleaning up their own mess??? Why hasn't there been a recall of this product? Why don't they have a _legitimate_ fix for the problems? Notice problems is plural. People are still being snookered into buying this joke, thinking it is compatible with XP, when plainly it is not.

I think it will be easier for me to just reformat and reinstall than to try to clean up this fiasco they have caused. I am perfectly capable of buggering up my own machine, without any help from the outside world. I will now move on to another company who is actually ready to protect my XP computer, and ready to accept responsibility for their mistakes. I have to wonder, though, if the term "class action" would hold any incentive for them to get their ACT! together. Pun not supported by author...

Judy is the Past President of APCUG and has been helping User Group members and officers for many years. Please send her a note if you use her article. There is no restriction against any non-profit group using the no restriction against any non-profit group using the article as long as it is kept in context, with proper credit given to the author. This article is brought to you by the Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an International organization to which this user group belongs.

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