Then, later in 2008, came a real surprise. A press event held by Symantec’s Norton executive David Hall revealed a startling revelation: a totally stunning “whoa!” rewrite of the entire Norton Internet Security 2009 suite, emphasising ultra-fast speed and a new commitment to totally minimising the NIS overhead.
Ever since then, every version of Norton Internet Security since has, amazingly, gotten faster and faster still, thus utterly reversing the Norton of the past into the V8 Supercar powering Internet Security range of the future.
In that time, every other security suite has gone on the same journey, with Kaspersky, BitDefender, Trend, AVG and others all promising ever faster performance, too.
Symantec seems to have been the catalyst to this change, although as it came smack-bang in the midst of the netbook revolution, this kind of radical software transformation to emphasise speed was definitely both overdue, and definitely coming, and not just in Internet Security suites, but also in operating systems.
After all, witness the transition from Windows Vista to the lightspeed Windows 7 in comparison, and even Apple’s Leopard OS X 10.5 to the much better Snow Leopard OS X 10.6.
Now, operating systems do tend to get filled with cruft and slow down after some months, and while Windows 8 promises the easiest ways yet to restore Windows to “as new” levels of speed, the world is yet to see the final Windows 8 code and use that final code for any length of time to see whether Windows 8 Pro machines are any better at preventing slow-down, or not.
However, none of that has stopped Symantec from coming out to definitively state that a Windows 8 PC running the latest version of Norton Internet Security will be a lot faster than one simply running the in-built (and free) Windows Defender security suite Microsoft is including with each copy of Windows 8.
The news comes forth from TechRadar which shows an Symantec internally produced graph, indicating a Windows 8 PC with Norton running 52% faster than one running Windows Defender.
Windows Defender is naturally switched off when a third-party Internet Security suite is running, thus enabling Symantec to make a genuine comparison between a Windows 8 PC with Norton, and one without.
TechRadar naturally notes that no independent testing of Symantec’s claims have yet been done, and I personally wonder how long it will be before Kaspersky Lab, AVG, BitDefender, Trend Micro and the other companies also claim something similar, but Symantec has certainly staked its claim, and it will be fascinating to see how all the other security vendors respond.
After all, with Windows 8 coming with anti-virus and anti-malware built in, you’d have to imagine that selling third party protection will be a tougher sell, but the facts are that third-party security products are always vastly more capable and protective than the free security suites, whether from Microsoft or others.
TechRadar quotes Symantec’s head of development Collin Davis talking about Windows Defender, stating that Symantec has “an entire team that work on nothing but performance. Now we get to say, Norton makes Windows faster. Because Defender is slower than Norton.”
Davis explains that “if you turn off Defender, your PC will be faster. We always have overhead, we still do. We add less overhead than Defender does”, while also indicating that Norton’s security suites will also soon be able to update themselves to the latest versions “without reboots”.
The article also goes on to quote Davis explaining that future retail versions of Norton may well come without a “year” or “version” designation, as all versions of Norton will be designed to simply, easily and effortlessly upgrade themselves to the very latest version – as long as a valid subscription is in place, of course - again, without those pesky reboots being needed.
So… the Internet Security wars, which have never ended (and probably never will), are about to enter their next exciting new level – not only that of defending against incredibly sophisticated threats out there – but also in capturing the hearts, minds and wallets of vast upcoming swathes of brand new Windows 8 users.