More than a month after Symantec knocked out tens of thousands of Chinese PCs with a faulty software update, the company is ready to offer compensation.
But Chinese users eligible for the offer will have to act fast; since it is only available for little over two weeks, and enterprise users hit by the fault may be unhappy with the terms of the offer.
Symantec's problems in China began on 18 May, when it released a bad software update that caused its Norton antivirus software to wrongly identify two system files in the Simplified Chinese version of Windows XP as malware and quarantine them.
That mistake, which Symantec blamed on "an automated process," left tens of thousands of PCs crippled and Internet bulletin boards full of angry posts.
Chinese users who lost data because of Symantec's faulty update demanded compensation, and at least two lawsuits were filed against the company. But Symantec was slow to respond, saying earlier this month it was considering requests for compensation.
Five weeks on the company is offering affected Chinese consumers a 12-month Norton license extension and a copy of Norton Save & Restore 2.0. Corporate customers are being offered Symantec Ghost Solution Suite licenses, depending on the number of PCs affected. Symantec is not offering to extend Norton licenses for corporate customers affected by the faulty update.
Symantec described its offer as "a gesture of our goodwill."
Chinese users will have to move fast if they want to take Symantec up on the deal. The company is only accepting applications for compensation during a brief window of time: from 27 June to 15 July. The company did not say why the period is so short, but said it was a sufficient span of time for those affected to act.
"We are offering more than two weeks for the registration period which we believe is a reasonable period of time for customers to register," said Symantec, in an e-mail response to questions. "If there are legitimate reasons why a particular customer is unable to register by 15 July, we will give consideration to extending the date for that customer."
The terms and conditions of the compensation offer do not require users to forego the right to legal action over damage caused to their systems by Symantec's update. "We hope that our customers will recognise that we are offering this goodwill gesture in recognition of any inconvenience caused by this incident," a company representative said.
Users who want to take Symantec up on its offer must apply at a special web site, which will validate their copies of Norton Antivirus to make sure they are licensed copies and eligible for the offer.