When it comes to naming conventions, Norton hasn’t made life easy for itself. It has a range of products that all offer online protection, all with vaguely similar names, so choosing the right one for you can feel a little hit-and-miss. To make matters worse, Norton AntiVirus 2008 has the same box as last year but in order to make it stand out, it’s now added the tag "with AntiSpyware".

Norton AntiVirus isn’t a full suite of protection tools but is instead designed to stop spyware and viruses from hitting your system and can be used in conjunction with other tools and scanning software.

Perhaps the first big change with this software is that it now only supports Windows XP and Vista, so if you’re running an older version of the OS, then this isn’t the product for you.

The interface hasn’t been overhauled quite in the same way as Norton 360, so you won’t find big tick boxes telling you that everything is working fine, but it does have a simple and easy to understand look about it.

The look is simple and intended to be hassle-free, which most people will like. Perhaps the only problem is that Norton has made it a little too simple, so if you like to know what’s going on and make manual changes, the options really aren’t there. To be fair, this simple approach appeals to most people, as long as they know the system is protected that is fine.

When it comes to protection, the basic engine is the same one that is used in Norton 360, which is Symnatec’s heuristic Sonar technology, so once set-up it will effectively monitor itself. When you install the software, it also links to Live Update, so you’ll get a full year’s worth of checks and updates from Symantec’s database. In fact, with close to 10 years worth of updates in store, this is why opting for Norton makes logical sense.

Browse Defender is a new tool that, as the name suggests, protects your internet browser from attacks, which is an increasingly popular way for hacks and Trojans to present themselves in the form of mini-downloads.

As with the last incarnation of the software, this isn’t a particularly heavy install and while earlier versions were prone to sap system resources, we found that is no longer the case. It doesn’t considerably add to boot-up times overall.

When it comes to running scans, you’ll find speeds have been improved but it will always be something of a chore so best set to run when you’re not trying to work. Our test machine was a dual-core notebook with 80GB hard drive, which took close to 3 hours to scan and check.

The asking price may seem a little harsh for simply being an AV tool but this does allow you to use it on up to three PCs in the same home. If you have these machines networked then you can also set up basic protection tools. If that network also happens to be wireless, Norton will inform you if the security is breached or drops.

Price when reviewed:

Norton AntiVirus 2008 remains a great way of protecting your PC or small family network. It may not be the smallest of installs but it’s easy to setup and ones it’s running you can effectively let it protect your system without you having to monitor it.