Watch Out when Loading Utilities in XP


Q. I just upgraded my computer’s operating system to the new Microsoft XP, and I’m delighted with the way it works—it’s really stable and it’s much faster than Windows 2000. However, I do have a problem, but I’m not sure I can totally blame Microsoft for it. One of my favorite fix-it, antivirus, cleanup and firewall protector utilities—a recommendation I got from this column—is Norton SystemWorks. After I got XP up and running, I learned that my current Norton won’t work with it, so I bought the latest version, Norton SystemWorks 2002. I went to load it, figuring the new version would automatically replace the old one. No such luck. Early in the attempted installation, a notice popped up telling me I had to remove the old Norton.

That was easier said than done. When my efforts to remove all traces of it failed, I went to Norton’s Web site and after a long, frustrating search discovered that I needed a special tool for the job. Why Norton didn’t warn me ahead of time is beyond me. In any case, the tool seemed to work—that is, it did apparently remove the old Norton. But that did not solve my problem—it left hidden files that can’t be removed in my operating system and that stops me from installing the new version. Norton tech support couldn’t help except to say I’ll probably have to do a clean install of XP. I’d like to avoid doing that. Any ideas?

A. I appreciate your problem; I went through a similarly frustrating exercise. When I called Norton’s tech support people, they blamed Microsoft; and, of course, Microsoft blames Norton. It’s a shame Norton, which has been aware of the problem, doesn’t warn buyers of their 2002 version for XP that they must uninstall the old version BEFORE they even load XP.

Norton’s tech support people told me they are working on a solution. Until that happens, sad to say, if you want Norton on your computer, in all likelihood you probably will have to completely reformat your hard disk and go through the agony of a clean install of XP.


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