Norton, how I hate thee, let me count the ways – Part Two

In Part One I ranted about how I’m through with Norton, and a little bit about why.  Welcome to Part Two, wherein I recount my tale of woe at what should have been a simple update.  (Warning: This is going to be a long post!)

I was at a client site last week (the day of the rant) and was looking at this one computer that was having some minor Internet Explorer related issues.  While working on that system, I noticed that the antivirus software was out of date.  (Generally, I try to get my customers into the corporate level antivirus apps to make sure that everything is up to date and all of the client computers are updated from the server.  This office, however, is smaller and doesn’t have a server.  They also have a haphazard array of computers that were all purchased at different times and have varying software packages on them, including the antivirus.) Of course, I let the customer know that the AV was expired and no longer receiving updates, and that it would have to be upgraded.  I mentioned that we could stay with the Norton (which was what it had on there), or take off the Norton and install McAfee, which is what I was hoping they would opt for, since they’ve had issues with the computers running Norton in the past (particularly networking issues, thanks to Norton’s retarded firewall, which for some reason is now forced on you with the AV).

They opted to upgrade Norton.

So, I had them go through the online order process and began my journey.  The entire process took two hours, which I’ve broken down into steps:

  1. Download installer file.  No big deal here, quick connection equals quick download.  I actually love this as an option for software delivery.  There are some minor flaws with this, which I’ll touch on in the next step.
  2. Run installer, receive error that the Windows Installer needs to be updated.  In the past, when software primarily came on CDs, if the software you were installing required version X of some other software that happened to be a redistributable software package, the CD would include it.  Now, any dependencies have to be worked out seperately.  So, on to the next step…
  3. Run update for Windows Installer.  (Luckily the Norton installer was kind enough to include a link to download the Windows Installer package.) Receive error that you don’t have permission to update the software and to contact your administrator.  WTF?  Okay, I can’t in anyway fault Norton for this, but it was a part of the ordeal, so it’s being documented here.
  4. Reboot to see if it fixes above error.
  5. Run update for Windows Installer, this time successfully.
  6. Reboot.
  7. Run Norton installer again.  Receive error that there is an older version of Norton that needs to be un-installed first.  Okay, this I have a major problem with.  Most software will update an older version without complaint, but not Norton.  Even if there is some technical reason that’s beyond my grasp as to why the old version needs to be un-installed first, why in the world can’t the Norton install program do this for me!?!  Seriously, every other software installer that I’ve used that needs the old version removed first does this step for you.  It may ask you to proceed, but it does it for you.  Symantec has this same problem with the System Center Console on their Corporate product.  Not only does it need to be separately un-installed first, but it requires an additional reboot to do so (which can be a pain if you’re working on someone’s server during business hours).
  8. Un-install old version of Norton.
  9. Reboot.
  10. Run Norton installer again.  Receive error that another installer is currently running.  What’s happening here is that the reboot you just did was not the final step in un-installing the previous version, and the un-install is running more tasks in the background without telling you.
  11. Wait a few minutes while the un-install continues in the background.  Monitor running processes until all MS installer processes to exit.
  12. Run Norton installer.  Receive error “Setup has detected that one or more Norton Antivirus device drivers have been marked for deletion.  You must restart Windows before continuing.” So, not only did the un-install continue after the reboot without telling me, but it’s not even complete yet.

    (It’s worth it at this point to mention that, each time the installer is run, it has to decompress the files as it’s first step.  Every time.  If it exits, it doesn’t leave the temp folder with the decompressed files and provide you a link to continue installation, like I’ve seen with some installers.  Nope, every stinking time you have to sit and wait for it to decompress those files.)

  13. Reboot. Again.
  14. Run Norton installer again.  Yeah!  It’s actually installing.  (The actual install takes 11 minutes to complete.)
  15. Register software with Norton.  Really?  Why?  There’s no technical reason for this, the software already has the subscription information, so why force me to go through this?  I should be able to chose whether or not I want to register the software, yet there’s no way to cancel or exit out of this screen.
  16. Run LiveUpdate.
  17. Sit while LiveUpdate runs, only to realize several minutes later that LU has actually locked up and is hogging the processor.  Try to cancel LU – no luck. Try to end the process through the Windows Task Manager – says access denied.  Wait to see if it frees itself….
  18. Force reboot.  Yep, manually power the computer down because there’s no way out at this point.

    (At this point I installed Sysinternals Process Explorer, in case LU locked up again, so that I could see what it was actually trying to do at that point.  I don’t include this as a separate step, as it’s something most people wouldn’t have even thought to do.)

  19. Run LiveUpdate again.  This time, when it locks up, view processes with Process Explorer to see what’s going on.  It turns out that the update for the Norton firewall (which shouldn’t even be a part of this product, or should at least ask you if you actually want it installed instead of forcing it on you) is the update that’s locking up.  Let it sit for a very long time until it actually completes the update (LiveUpdate took 20 minutes to completely finish).

So there you have it, that’s how something that should take 5-10 minutes actually ends up taking two hours.  There are several very unnecessary steps in all of this, and things (like LiveUpdate) that should just work better.  But, the unnecessary is forced upon you, and the you just have to live with the things that don’t work like they should.  (Unless, of course, you learn from your mistakes.)