Installation and interface
First-time installation is quick. Load the CD and click the Next button a few times; within minutes, you're done. But if you're upgrading from a previous version of VirusScan, you must uninstall your old copy before loading version 7.0, which is a major hassle. Plus, you'll need to reconfigure your customized settings--preset scan times, firewall configuration, and so on--because version 7.0 can't inherit them.
Like Norton AntiVirus 2003, VirusScan 7.0 fully automates its virus-definition downloads; you won't need to install these yourself. Version 7.0 also includes a complimentary one-year subscription to McAfee's virus-definition service, which costs $9.95 per year thereafter.
Unlike NAV 2003, which automatically deletes viruses once it intercepts them, VirusScan 7.0's default setting posts a warning dialog asking whether you'd like to delete, clean, or quarantine the infected file, which gives you more control over the process. However, VirusScan 7.0 users who prefer Norton's "don't bother the user" method can change this setting by entering the Advanced Options dialog and choosing either the Clean or Delete (infected files) menu item.
VirusScan 7.0's interface, with its browserlike Back, Forward, and Home buttons, is pretty much unchanged from version 6.0, with the exception of a new feature that allows you to schedule scans of individual folders. For example, you can schedule it to check your always-changing My Documents folder to provide you with a degree of control that version 6.0 didn't offer.
Under the hood, McAfee's Hostile Activity Watch Kernel (HAWK) detects unfriendly viruses, such as mass-mailer worms. This time around, HAWK supports SMTP-based e-mail clients, such as Microsoft Outlook Express and Eudora, in addition to Outlook, so if your e-mail app tries to send a message to more than 60 percent of your address book, HAWK will alert you. However, like NAV 2003, VirusScan 7.0 offers only limited protection for America Online e-mail users, no thanks to AOL's proprietary e-mail format.
But here's the clincher: version 7.0, like its predecessor, includes McAfee Firewall to prevent unauthorized access to Internet-connected PCs, which is especially important for those machines with always-on broadband connections. The firewall is unchanged since the last version, except that it now automatically allows desktop applications such as Internet Explorer, AOL, and Music Maker to access the Net.