Another year rolls on and that can only mean one thing - no not another version of FIFA to contend with, but Symantec’s Norton SystemWorks. For those not entirely aware of the Norton Phenomenon, Dr Norton has been rolling SystemWorks out for over two decades and each year we are promised more and more optimisation, more and more control and yet all with less buttons to press.

That’s what Symantec has done once again. It’s more of the same with a few new features to justify the purchase and enough software to offer you a comprehensive package. The usual suspects are Norton Antivirus, Norton Utilities, Norton Go Back Personal Edition, and Norton CleanSweep. New to the family is Norton Password Manager, which offers to look after all of your internet banking, and anything else you want to keep secret.

New features across the program include a new one-click button cleanup that whizzes though your system, telling you what’s wrong with it and then fixing it. Our system which we thought was running smoothly had over 10 major errors running in the back ground and 30 seconds later they were all fixed. Of course the problem with Windows XP from as far as we can gather is there is always something wrong with the system, hence Windows Update. Another new feature is product activation and the product will have to be activated on the PC to use it. In fact if you install the software and then don’t activate it you have 15 days before the CD turns into a very expensive coaster. Microsoft tried this with Windows XP and Microsoft Office before realising that it was just too much hassle and that people like to keep reinstalling software over and over again. Its insistent reminders get you to activate it just for some peace and quiet and something that might be good for Symantec and its control on people lending it to friends but for the user its an added hassle.

Norton Antivirus - the jewel in Symantec’s crown- has had additional features added such as the ability to track whether someone has installed Spyware or keystroke software on your PC and something the chaps over at Valve - developers of Half-Life 2 - could have done with to stop the code getting out into the public domain.

Price when reviewed:

For the SystemWorks 2003 user there isn’t that much new here and therefore if you are happy getting the live updates for Norton Antivirus then you could probably carry on paying for those online without buying the 2004 edition. For non-users however this does offer a great package. The age old system tools such as Speed Disk will make your computer noticeably faster - better for playing games - and the web cleanup elements do allow you to easily tidy up your web folders. A good solid product in spite of the reservations some may have with product activation.