Microsoft Service and Support: Fix It Expedites Troubleshooting
Your troubleshooting efforts will be more efficient and more accurate with the new Microsoft Fix it Center Pro.
Troubleshooting can often be a troublesome prospect. It’s hit or miss at best, unless you have some help. Within the Microsoft Customer Service and Support organization, we’ve developed a system that can automatically identify the root cause of complex issues by detecting problem signatures for known issues. Using techniques such as pattern recognition, call stack analytics and problem signature detection, we can automatically match known issues to available solutions.
Over the last year, we’ve been investing heavily in these diagnostic systems to rapidly identify the solutions for complex issues without requiring manual analysis. This has resulted in a tremendous reduction in the effort required to identify specific issues and surface precise solutions. Issues that used to take hours or days to troubleshoot now only take minutes.
Given the impact our automated diagnostics have had within Microsoft, we’re now making them available online. One of our first endeavors in this space is a new service called “Fix it Center Pro.” We’ve made this available as a beta in 18 languages to help Microsoft customers resolve issues globally.
The Fix it Center Pro beta initially exposes our automated analysis of 14 different areas, ranging from Windows Server Performance analysis to Exchange Server Diagnostics. Within this range, we can check for thousands of problem signatures.
Walk-Through an Analysis Session
To best demonstrate the capabilities of Fix it Center Pro, I’ll walk-through an example of how the Analysis feature can provide you with solutions. First, go to the FixIt Center Pro beta site and sign in with a LiveID. (The LiveID is required so your analysis results are protected from others viewing them.)
Next, click on the “Analysis” button on the toolbar on the left-hand side of the screen. This opens the Analysis dashboard with which you’ll be working. In order to start the right analysis, you just need to click on the “New” button and choose the Analysis package to initiate (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Set up a new Analysis package within Fix it Center Pro.
The Analysis package only reads information to troubleshoot issues. It will not make any changes to your system. It will provide you with recommended solutions once the analysis is complete, so you can choose to take action on them at that time.
Click on the “Windows Performance” Analysis package. This particular package will diagnose performance problems for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 (see Figure 2).
Figure 2. Choose the Analysis package that most closely matches your needs.
Once you start the Analysis package, you’ll be asked to provide a name for the Analysis Session. This way, you can easily refer to it later. Next, choose to download and run the Analysis package. You’re presented with a few questions that help get the diagnostics get started correctly.
This is where you’ll start to realize the power of Microsoft diagnostics. The system begins to analyze specific files and targeted settings to identify known causes of Windows performance issues. Traditionally, a technician would do this manually by examining Windows system files, log files and registry settings. Fix it Center Pro can do this automatically and securely with the backing of the vast expertise of Microsoft to find known issues and return specific solutions to you.
The analysis can take some time to complete, as the system is examining thousands of problem signatures. It often takes less than 15 minutes for any of the Analysis packages to complete. For any diagnostics that take longer, they must be performing deep system scans. Even the longer analyses are usually complete within an hour. You can continue using your system while Fix it Center Pro is performing diagnostics.
In order to perform a deep system analysis, it might be necessary for Fix it Center Pro to securely upload specific system files to be analyzed by our diagnostics service (see Figure 3). Any system files that are uploaded are immediately and entirely deleted after analysis in accordance with the Microsoft Privacy Statement.
Figure 3. Fix it Center Pro might have to send data to Microsoft, but only for troubleshooting purposes.
Once the processing has started, you can return to the Fix it Center Pro dashboard to review the results. It could take several minutes for the processing of the files to be complete. While the files are being analyzed, you can check the “Progress” status by viewing your Analysis package (see Figure 4).
Figure 4. You can check progress or continue working while the analysis is taking place.
The results are then presented in the Fix it Center Pro Analysis dashboard for you to review. The solutions are clearly documented in Microsoft Knowledge Base articles that have been authored to be easy to understand and use. Typical solutions are related to the installation of software updates, configuration changes and recommended system settings (see Figure 5).
Figure 5. Once analysis results are returned, you’ll be able to see detailed solutions.
Fix it Center Pro also includes features that help you find solutions using the “Guided Search.” It might also steer you toward Microsoft Support Professionals if you click the “Escalate” button for an Analysis package. If you choose to escalate to Microsoft or if you choose to create a “New” support request, charges for a new support incident may apply.
This example shows how Fix it Center Pro beta will become a helpful online diagnostic service platform. Being able to determine your own answers to technical and service questions can make you more productive and efficient.
Steve Justice works in the Microsoft Customer Service and Support division as a principal escalation engineer. He’s been with Microsoft since 1998, working primarily with Exchange Server and Outlook. His current focus is improving the online support experience through streamlined content, automated diagnostics and enhanced online capabilities.