Software for security and computer maintenance is in sad shape. I wrote about some of the recent problems with Microsoft Windows Live OneCare (which has managed to avoid drawing attention to itself for the last couple of months, thank goodness).

In fairness, then, I should draw attention to this writer’s story about Norton 360, which took a perfectly nice computer and left it unusable. He mentions in passing his previous experiences with Norton products, all of which were horrible.

Theoretically Norton 360 is the new, leaner service that competes with OneCare and rescues Symantec’s horrible reputation. There were positive “reviews” written from the press releases, but none of the anecdotes I’ve read from the people actually using the product have been complimentary.

If you have a Norton product, the most valuable link in the world is this link to the Norton Removal Tool. It blasts every vestige of every Norton product off your computer.

It’s worth noting that this is symptomatic of bigger problems. In the last few months, additional major flaws turned up in Symantec’s other products (Norton Internet Security, Norton Antivirus, and Norton SystemWorks). Critical problems also turned up in multiple McAfee products, including VirusScan, and in some products from Computer Associates, one of the big corporate security vendors. Here’s an article with more details about those fiascos. In each case, updates were made available more or less quickly to fix the problems, but wouldn’t it be nice if they just worked?

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