Upside: By taking the stance that there's a very thin line between malicious virus code and malicious spyware, Symantec created its antispyware scanning engine similar to the one used within its Norton AntiVirus app. But unlike the antivirus scanner, which automatically quarantines viruses without user input, the Norton antispyware scanner informs you of all suspected instances of spyware. For each, Symantec recommends action but ultimately leaves the decision of whether to quarantine a questionable app up to you. If you're uncertain about what to do, Symantec further defines each threat using one or more of the following criteria: performance impact, privacy impact, ease of removal, stealth installation, and prevalence. For example, if you're a gamer and you're concerned about system speed, you might want to remove all suspected spyware that has an adverse performance impact.
Downside: Unfortunately, Norton Internet Security 2005 suite is a resource hog, and the addition of a new antispyware scanning engine within Norton Internet Security 2005 Antispyware Edition (beta) is bound to slow older PCs. Also, there are already many excellent and free antispyware alternatives, such as Spybot Search and Destroy, Ad-aware SE Personal Edition, and Microsoft Antispyware (beta). Norton Internet Security 2005 Antispyware Edition is currently a public beta available for download; however, the final, retail version, expected later this summer, should sell for about $70 and requires an annual update subscription fee of about $20.
Outlook: Norton Internet Security is perhaps the most popular Internet security suite on the market, so widespread adoption is almost guaranteed. This will put added pressure on the paid third-party apps to either align with a competing security company or rethink their business model entirely. It will not, however, mean the demise of the free alternatives, which you should continue using since no single antispyware app alone removes everything. Check back this summer for a review of the final Norton release.