Fix it – Microsoft tackles Knowledge Base usability

microsoft_fixit_icon Microsoft Knowledge Base articles from Help and Support site contain a lot of information coming directly for Microsoft. Good chunk of it refers to dealing with various bugs and problems.

Since Windows internal workings are governed by registry – fixes often include instructions for manual registry editing which is neither easy or safe for average users. Recently situation started to change with dedicating team to work on automating fixing process.

Fix it for me blog

Team has simple micro-blog up. It’s running since November 2008 but it seems first two months were slow and things had really started moving on January. There is not much content there – only announcements which Knowledge Base articles have Fix it buttons live and working.

Fix it buttons

Updated articles have new Fix it for me sections (as opposed to Let me fix it myself with old-style instructions) that now include uniform Fix it buttons. For now buttons will only appear in English versions of articles (language can be changed in sidebar) but will work for localized versions of Windows.

microsoft_fixit_interface

Clicking button will start download process of small .msi (Windows Installer ) file that will perform all necessary actions when run.

Advantages

I can’t stress enough how important is solving OS issues in a way that doesn’t create more issues . Aside from process simplified for end-users it will also benefit system administrators (some of them also known under computer person in family pseudonym) for whom sending file to remote location is simpler then remote registry access.

Overall

Awesome initiative and I hope it will spread like fire through Knowledge Base . I have some doubts about using msi packages over reg (plain text files with registry keys that are imported on execution) files but it is Microsoft’s call I guess. I would also like to see some tool or page bringing all available fixes together in simple interface. Well even if Microsoft won’t bother to – then  some third party probably will (with fixes being in easily downloadable form).

Links

Blog http://blogs.technet.com/fixit4me/default.aspx

RSS http://blogs.technet.com/fixit4me/rss.xml

Help and Support http://support.microsoft.com/

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6 Comments

  • Hi, I am glad you like our work, and thank you for taking the time to suggest and comment. My name is Paul, and you can reach me at Paulscho@microsoft.com. Alternatively, you can reach the fixit! team by emailing our alias, at fixit4me@microsoft.com. We would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. As you pointed out, over the last 2+ months we’ve launched 20 of these new icons/solutions to automate common software issues, and are continuing to engage the technical community for input and suggestions for more. Please feel free to write us. We are anxious to expand the groups we speak with. We are also on Facebook, our group is Microsoft Product Quality Online.

    Sincerely,
    Paul Schottland

  • @Paul Schottland

    Thanks for dropping by and good luck to your team! :) I like FixIt concept and it would improve troubleshooting experience for plenty of users over time.

  • Thank you Rarst, I would welcome your ideas on how we can improve. Also, your readers are welcome to suggest ideas or contribute scenarios they’d like to see us turn into Fixit buttons (it is helpful if you send the link to the content you’d like to see automated).

    sincerely,
    Paul

  • @Paul Schottland

    Well as I wrote in post – some kind of unified interface for tweaks would be nice. They are relatively small so can be bulked together to carry around on flash drive and such.

    About other uses – maybe you could make FixIt version of WinSock Fix
    https://www.rarst.net/software/winsock-fix/
    it’s kinda outdated and I don’t know any native analogue from Microsoft.

  • Hi Rarst, I am having someone look into the WinSock issue. As this project is a new startup (within my orgnaization), we wanted to see how many technical suggestions for fixit! work we would get, so I am very glad to take the suggestion. For the time being, we were using the email address above to work with our MVPs and other technical partners to get their initial feeback.

    Again, I really appreciate the press coverage from you.
    -paul

  • […] the beginning of this year I had posted about Microsoft Fix It initiative to provide easy to use utilities for fixing common issues, described in Microsoft Knowledge Base. […]

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