This is the error message on the Norton support Web site after users reported that the patch failed to install properly.

(Credit: Symantec)

Symantec is providing a fix for customers who got error messages after a patch deployment went awry for some Norton users, the company said on Tuesday.

The problem started last Wednesday when Symantec deployed patches for Norton AntiVirus 2009, Norton Internet Security 2009, and Norton 360 v3 via LiveUpdate. Some customers received error messages saying that there was a problem with the Symantec Service Framework.

The patch, which is supposed to communicate with the hardware to ensure that it is correctly installed, did not handle the response from the hardware properly after it was installed, a company spokeswoman said.

The problem affected a small number of users, or fewer than 1 percent, and most of the customers reporting a problem are using PCs that have been specially configured or customized and are not "out-of-the-box" PCs and "only after reboot," the spokeswoman said.

There were more than 630 messages on the Norton user forum about the topic, a number of which expressed frustration with Symantec and accused the company of not doing enough to keep customers informed about the problem.

"This is insane. I'm looking for other antivirus options now and will soon remove Norton from all three of my machines. Next I'm going to post a review on Epinions advising others to stay far away," wrote one user. "This is garbage and I've had more than enough."

Another user wrote: "Well I just used the Norton Removal Tool for likely the last time. When the browser window with the Norton reinstallation instructions popped up, I chuckled as I closed it out and navigated to a competitor site were I promptly downloaded another AV product."

The company first learned of the problem from posts to the forum last Wednesday and posted messages the next day saying it was investigating the problem. It then provided an official response on Friday saying the problem had been identified, according to the spokeswoman. The fix was posted on Symantec's knowledge base and the forum on Saturday, she said.

Symantec customers can visit this Symantec page to download the fix.

Symantec also set up a link on Tuesday through Microsoft WinQual to help users locate a fix and will make the fix available to customers automatically via LiveUpdate this week, according to the spokeswoman.

The problem comes less than six months after Symantec released a diagnostic patch for some of its older Norton products that did not identify its origin and thus triggered alerts on firewalls. The company blamed human error for the release of the unsigned patch, a program dubbed "PFST.exe."