Symantec has released new beta versions of its Norton Internet Security 2009 and Norton AntiVirus 2009 products citing "breakthrough" changes in performance.
Jody Gibney, senior product manager at Symantec said: "Because of the changing way people are using their PCs, and because of their demanding expectations, it wasn't enough to be a great-performing security product. We had to be a great performing product, period."
Research the company conducted showed that lacklustre performance and system impact were the biggest reasons why customers switched security software, she added.
Among the changes to the new versions was a reduction in memory consumption, a decision prompted by research that showed 40 percent of Symantec's base ran PCs equipped with just 512MB of RAM.
Norton Internet Security (NIS) 2009, for example, consumes about 6MB of memory when it's running, said Gibney, just over half the 11MB used by NIS 2008, the current in-production version of the product.
The performance rewrite - Gibney called it "not incremental, but breakthrough" - included changes to everything from the software's memory footprint and CPU utilisation to scanning time.
To trim scanning time, Symantec will debut a new technology dubbed "Norton Insight" that's designed to reduce the number of files that must be scanned by about 65 percent, on average. Insight takes advantage of the Symantec software's in-place heuristic scanning engine, then combines that with statistical analysis of the hard drive contents of the 14 million users of the Norton line to identify files that can be trusted, and thus removed from the scanning list.