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In an effort to improve customer service and cut down on support costs, Microsoft added a number of features to Windows 7 that give the operating system the ability to diagnose problems automatically and even fix itself in some cases.
Windows 7 screen shot
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Some of the tools are contained in a part of the platform that Microsoft calls the Windows Action Center.
"These troubleshooters can diagnose and solve the most common problems reported by Windows users, including set-up and compatibility issues, hardware defects, and the like" said Lori Brownwell, in a blog post.
For example, inexperienced computer users often install the incorrect drivers for new hardware, such as speakers, a mistake that results in poor performance or no functionality at all. "If you have incorrectly installed your audio driver, the Windows Action Center can alert you, diagnose the problem and point you to the correct fix , of fix the problem itself," said Brownwell.
Microsoft has also published online "Fix its" that automate much of the troubleshooting process. Clicking on a Fix it initiates a routine under which steps outlined in Microsoft's Knowledge Base technical articles are automatically applied to the problem.
"We've even built safety measures into the Fix its to give added reassurance," said Brownwell. "If the user clicks on the wrong Fix it, it won't modify anything," she said.
Microsoft is also using a number of other unconventional means to offer Windows 7 help, including social networking. The company's support team is using Twitter to quickly disseminate solutions to any new problems that might arise. "We have developed additional support tools for Windows 7 that reflect the places people are increasingly going online to visit, such as a favorite social media site," said Brownwell.
Microsoft formally launched Windows 7 last week. The full version of Windows 7 Professional is $299, with upgrades going for $199. Windows 7 Ultimate is priced at $319, with the upgrade version at $219. The full version of Windows 7 Home Premium is priced at $199, with an upgrade from Vista or XP costing $119.
InformationWeek has published an indepth report on Windows 7. Download the report here (registration required).