McAfee has apologized to users for bugs in the company's new line of client protection software, released last month.
In an e-mail sent to some users last week, McAfee Executive Vice President Bill Kerrigan acknowledged that there had been glitches in the roll out. "We would like to extend our sincere apologies to anyone who may have had problems with their computers due to the upgrade," he wrote.
Not all McAfee customers have been given the new software, which is going through a phased roll out, according to a McAfee spokeswoman. However, users who receive software updates from McAfee directly, or who purchased the software in the past month may have had problems, she said.
Both McAfee and rival Symantec have been contending with Microsoft's recent entry into the antivirus market, hoping to stay one step ahead of their new competitor. With this new line of products, code-named "Falcon," McAfee introduced a new user interface as well as its SiteAdvisor Web site-rating software.
McAfee estimates that fewer than 1 percent of customers who downloaded the new software have had difficulties, but the problems they experienced could be annoying.
The new software didn't work well with some ISP (Internet service provider) software, causing browsing slow-downs for some users, the company said. And customers who had disabled firewall protection would be presented with notification messages that could not be ignored, an annoyance for some.
Some customers were simply confused by the new user interface, McAfee added.
"While we believe no one's computer protection was compromised, we have worked quickly and hard to resolve the issues," Kerrigan said. "In fact, we have already sent out an update that automatically fixed the glitches caused by the upgrade."
Customers who have complained about the bugs are being offered a free 3-month extension to their subscription, a McAfee spokeswoman said.
The bugs made Web surfing a drag, said Matt Saefkow, a software programmer. "One out of every 10 images would not load unless I refreshed the page a number of times, " he said. "I was frustrated to the point where I no longer had any interest in trying to fix a program that should have helped my computer stay alive."
Even before this latest update, Saefkow had experienced problems running FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and P-to-P (peer-to-peer) software on his PC, but the Web browsing bug was the last straw, he said. He has chronicled his difficulties with the software on his blog: http://www.crashagain.com.
He now plans to remove the McAfee software and download a free product, which he hopes will be less of a drain on his PC.
"When McAfee itself is causing a computer to feel like it's affected [by malicious software] that's counterproductive," Saefkow said. "I'm not going to be spending money on antivirus."