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Friday, 09 January 2009 11:05

Eee PC and Eee Box gain free Norton security software - but only just

Buyers of ASUS's Eee family of netbooks and nettops will come with a preinstalled copy of Norton Internet Security. Trouble is, they only get a very limited free look before being expected to sign up as paying customers.

Regular readers may recall that I've been toying with the idea of buying a netbook for some months.

One of the reasons I've been thinking about going for Linux (factory-installed or otherwise) is that I'd prefer to avoid the overhead of security software on a relatively low powered system.

Consequently, I'm been a bit disappointed that several models only seem to be sold here with Windows. I know I can always replace the operating system, but why pay for a licence that I won't use?

Anyway, the Global Financial Crisis has struck particularly hard in the publishing sector, so it looks like I'll be taking my ageing PowerBook G3 on the road for a while yet. Such is life.

But I'm still keeping an eye on the netbook market, and so I was interested to see that ASUS - the company that led the netbook wave with its Eee PC - is set to begin shipping Norton Internet Security on all Eee PC and Eee Box systems worldwide.

"Given their unprecedented ease of use, the Eee PC and Eee Box have introduced the Internet to legions of users with little to no prior computer experience — many of whom may be unaware of the dangers posed by adware, spyware, viruses, worms, spam, and so forth," said Ellis Wang, Eee PC software PM department director at ASUS.

He might be right about that, though I'm not completely convinced. Almost all the Eee buyers I have come across are using it as an additional computer, but that might just be a demographic thing.

What else did the ASUS spokesperson have to say? Please read on.

The exceptions are experienced computer users that are buying it for someone else (typically a family member) to use, with the actual buyer taking care of the technical stuff.

"Shipping Norton Internet Security 2009 with each Eee PC and Eee Box will ensure that our users have access to an easy-to-use and fast security solution that provides the multiple layers of protection necessary to lessen online risks and ensure the safest, most productive Internet experience possible."

It's been a few years since I last ran a Norton security product on one of my computers, but I must say that I've heard better things from my colleagues about NIS 2009 than I did about its recent predecessors.

Trouble is, all that Eee buyers get is a two-month trial. After that, they'll need to switch to a paid subscription.

Is it just my innate bloody-mindedness, or would you too be more likely to uninstall the product at the end of the trial period and go for a competing product instead?

If the trial was a full year, then I'd feel I was getting something valuable. But two months makes me feel that someone's trying to manipulate me.

What do you reckon - or would you just use Linux on your netbook instead? Leave a comment to share your thoughts on the matter.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.



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