Microsoft (Quietly) Launches PC Advisor Repair Utility. Going After Apple Next?

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mautzu

i think it is a good move and i hope that PC Health Advisor to work well and help me to solve some problem that my pc have

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rowcall

The problem with PC Advisor parallels with that of a real person consultant.  Identify your core clientele base and market it to them.  In doing so, you created a niche market and possibly followers later on.  If the program is designed too dumbed down, the flock will be few and non-unique.  Personally, as a power user and tinker aficionado, the idea of PC Advisor is too much "Big Brother" for me.  Your average Granny doesn't have the patience nor tolerant for pop-up messages.  For her, it is best to create a computer environment with high restrictions so that any potential for calamity is mitigated or at least made dificult.  This is a tough sell and MS might just be padding the bill to keep its developers busy because for Granny, time can't be wasted because mortality is just around the corner.

By the way, I don't appreciate MPC use of sensational article title.  In no way shape or form has MPC article discuss the relevancy of Apple's role in this apps.  What are you smoking? 

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Muerte

If the instructions are written clear enough, ie, not in tech speak, anyone who can follow instructions can do almost anything short of installing a new motherboard and cpu, they need to with a computer.

For driver updates take a cue from Nvidia.  If its any easier to do don't know how.  And with a little more design in the software even the uninstalling of the old drivers can be automated.  Well its already there all you have to do is execute it.

 BSOD's aare annoying at best.  Find a way to throw and actual error message.  It might be as simple as the last executed instruction was from this program to use this piece/pieces of hardware.  This would at least give someone troubleshooting a place to start. Although you'd probably have to have hardware manufacturers willing to throw error messages when they die also.

 The way this thing works now it just seems like a rewrite of the tutorial.

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SteveSilver

I'm missing something - the article refers to "Going after Apple next?" but it's not clear to me how that is part of this. Or is that going to be a separate article? (Frankly, I hope Microsoft is not planning on "going after Apple" in any way other than producing better software, particularly on the OS front - we PC users don't need another advertising campaign, just better products.)

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_jmk

I've spent a lot of time troubleshooting friends' Windows boxes, and the #1 question I get asked is "why did my computer slow down?" There are lots of potential reasons -- memory pressure, disk performance, degraded internet connectivity, rogue software, etc. -- so answering the question can take a lot of work.

A killer app would watch for bottlenecks, and provide useful feedback: "Your system is running slowly because Microsoft Outlook and Norton Antivirus are both trying to use your hard drive at the same time. Quitting one of them would speed up your computer."

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strykyr

Something that monitors driver versions and such.  Another thing...while I haven't seen a single BSOD since I installed ultimate 64bit...when one happens...in common english mind you...why it happened and what to do about it without scouring the internet.  I spent 11 days one time trying to fight BSODs and install xp because of bad memory.  The BSOD concept is absolutely horrible.  Think it mught be time to revamp that and give it useful information instead of memory locations and such.  If you guys can get it to tell you the stuff it does tell you to figure out whats going on, why not just have it tell you whats going on.

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Matthew Kerner ...

Hello Will,

Thanks for taking the time to write this review of Advisor.  I know that the Advisor team here at Microsoft, and that I personally value these kinds of reviews: they help us focus on what matters to reviewers and to improve those things going forward.

One of the tricky things about working in this space is that there are so many different categories of users.  Many of the power users I've spoken with want more details from tools to help them understand exactly what's happening on their PC.  In contrast, my grandmother routinely reminds me that she feels way out of her depth with anything that doesn't simply work the first time.  For her, the experience offered by Advisor is advanced and perhaps even inscrutable.  It sounds to me like you (and perhaps your readership) are fluent with the tools and help resources built into Windows - in this case things like tutorials and the toolbox are less relevant.

Another major thrust of your feedback was about the PC Checkup content - the list of problems and solutions that we identify.  This is the specific area that my team works on.  I'm glad to see that we found a set of problems that were relevant for your machine - we worry both about underwhelming and overwhelming users with this list.  I also hear that there were some very specific and annoying problems that we didn't identify.  If you'd like, feel free to post the details of those problems and we can research whether they can be added to our list.

In fact, I would encourage both you and your readers to respond with any PC Checkup suggestions you'd like to make.  I'll commit to checking the site over the next few days to see what folks have written, and to raise those problems as candidates here at the office.  I can't promise that we'll develop solutions for them (we may not be able to detect or solve the problem in such a way that most of our users can benefit from the work) but we will consider them seriously.

Thanks again for taking an interest in Advisor and for writing a detailed review.

Best regards,
Matthew Kerner
Microsoft Corporation

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Olivier Mengué

Hi Matthew,

There is a important issue for french users of Vista: the keyboard is switched to english when in a pure DOS window.

More information (in french) and a workaround on my blog:

http://o.mengue.free.fr/blog/2007/09/02/41-le-clavier-francais-sous-le-dos-de-vista

Olivier.

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willsmith

Hi Matthew,

Thanks for posting. It's always good to open a dialog about new products. I definitely understand that this type of utility isn't for power users. However, for "normal" end-users, the utilities are flawed too. They're all much too "talky", and the vast majority of the fixes are of such minor problems (Disk cleanup shortcut is pointing to the wrong place, for example) that people are immediately trained to ignore them. In my opinion, these apps should only call out serious problems that impact performance or stability of your system.

I didn't have a failing hard drive to see if it detects SMART errors, but I did overclock memory to simulate bluescreens associate with memory/chipset problems, and the app didn't mention anything. It didn't detect out-of-date graphics drivers (again, something you probably wouldn't traditionally call a problem for your grandmother, but how many of those early Vista crashes were related to bad GPU drivers?)

I assume that this research is being done more for forthcoming versions of Windows and Vista than software that's already available. The grandmother audience is pretty unlikely to seek out a separate software download just to see if it helps troubleshoot printer problems.

Anyway, thanks for posting here, I'll look forward to your feedback Matthew,

///Will

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klxz79

I ran it on x64 and it recognized that the drivers for my ATi viddeo
capture card were outdated and not compatible with SP1.  So I
downloaded the drivers and tried to install them but doing the install
gave me a BSOD.  That isn't the fault of PC advisor as I've been having
the BSOD problem for a while now while trying to update the drivers for
my TV tuner card.  Other than that my experience was the same as
your's.  I agree with Matt that this isn't designed for power users but
from average users and I'd expect it to become more relevant as time
goes on.

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Ross Snowden

I bet it detected and outdated ATI Theatre driver like it did on my machine as well.  I knew enough to stay away from the most recent driver, as it gets detected as a removable USB drive on my machine.  I also reveived a BSOD with this driver when selecting "safely remove hardware".  It is a known problem with the newer drivers to the TV Wonder tuner card, and presumably others as well.  Just stick to the 7.4 driver, and all should be well, although I'd rather ATI fix this annoying problem with new drivers.

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yuki.n

I don't know if the way I perceive it is correct, but I don't think my grandmother would try to use PC Advisor. If she wants things to simply work the first time, I'm quite sure she won't try to find out what PC Advisor or any other program is telling her - she simply wants all "annoyances" out of her way. People who are likely to look at this window and try to understand what it's offering are also the ones who'd have discovered Control Panel or the Help menu, so it still sounds kind of useless. As a conclusion, I think that all tools such as PC Advisor should be developer with an average to advanced user in mind. About novice users, the best way to go is to try to make everything work out-of-the-box as much as possible, and try to keep clear of popup windows or anything similar that will prevent them from opening their favorite application immediately.

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anonymuos

The ability to monitor Windows settings in real-time and fix them if they change is a killer feature. Can be pretty good against apps that silently change Windows settings.

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