Symantec antivirus stops production

Last week I witnessed an upgrade of the Symantec Anti-virus client to version 10, at a major customer. This company represents a Benelux division of a multinational who sells fast moving consumer goods. Picture a big American, Fortune 500 company.

After a period of testing several standard desktop deployments, the team involved with this upgrade decided to effectively deploy the new client, starting at the local premises at the Belgium production plant, from which they operated. Setup the server, push the clients.

I guess half a day work to get that rolling. During that, they witnessed one production machine with a failing hard drive. At least that’s what they thought. It appeared to be a Windows 2000 professional machine and it wasn’t a hard drive failure. It appeared to be the first of all Windows 2000 professional based machines who plainly crashed after the new Antivirus client got working. Plain BSOD. No rocking, no rolling. The ideal tool every Union would like to have. We had to rescue boot every single machine and rename the AV’s application directory to get things working again. Without any active antivirus, that is.

Now when you realise most W2K machines were to be found in the production areas, halting all production on about 6 lines, you might have a clue of the extent of the problem :-).

Ok, the team should have tested it on W2K pro. It appeared they overlooked that and only tested it on Windows XP. But, you should now that

    Symantec Anti Virus v.10 has been out for about half a year now
    Symantec Anti Virus v.10 has been installed by other colleagues with several customers in several different circumstances, and never crashed

The corporate nerd in you will rightfully say ´´That’s not enough, they should have tested the exact circumstances of their environment”. Well…, that’s true given the actual facts of how most – dare I say Windows based – computers act nowadays and how they should be managed. But technically, that just sucks.

My colleague, who suffered this strike, tried to find the exact cause of the crash. Tried to reinstall workstations in several ways. Set the damn thing up with the corporate workstation, which involved some Windows Group Policies and some specific applications – nothing unusual, dare I say – and it crashed. Blue nightmare. Setup the same AV client with a vanilla Windows 2000 setup, no problem. It was that same AV client, who during testing phase gave a (minor) problem because the ´´My Pictures'' folder was redirected to a UNC path. Standard Windows configuration possibility, I thought. But no, it appears even simple things cause a problem.

When I’m confronted with this kind of problem, it keeps striking me how totally illogic those are. And I’m not even a Vulcan. For me, this stuff makes the uttered signs of the inner problems in Microsoft Windows. It shows very well how its basis is b0rken. But few people seem to agree, or even care. I could tell you similar horror stories on how backup breaks on Windows. Every single day I spend on my company’s IT helpdeskluckily not that much – I’m confronted with backup problems. More, that helpdesk probably lives by 20% to 40% on backup problems. I never, ever experienced (software) backup problems with my Linux based systems. Once configured, a Linux backup always finished as it should be. Never, ever expect such a thing of a Windows backup.

I wonder when people will get those facts when thinking of their ROI.

Oh well.