Microsoft readies new 'don't blame Windows' tool

Microsoft has begun privately beta testing a new tool, known as "Windows Advisor," which is aimed at helping consumers better pinpoint why their Windows machines aren't up to snuff.

Microsoft has begun privately beta testing a new tool, known as "Windows Advisor," which is aimed at helping consumers better pinpoint why their Windows machines might not be up to snuff.

Microsoft officials have been saying that Windows -- and especially the much-maligned Windows Vista -- isn't to blame for all of users' PC problems. Faulty drivers and badly written apps are often behind users' unhappiness with their new PCs, the Softies have said. Microsoft is making sure that users will be able to place blame where it belongs with Windows Advisor.

From a source with access to the private beta information Microsoft made available to testers earlier this month:

"While in the past support was limited to a help desk, today the lines are becoming blurred between the various technologies. When a user has a sluggish Internet connection, is it due to a connectivity issue, spyware, a virus, an outdated or poorly maintained computer, the router, a failing hard drive, or simply the customer’s impatience? To be effective in today’s environment, computer care and support services must be more comprehensive and accurate. That’s where we believe Windows Advisor comes in.

"Windows Advisor is an easy-to-use self-help tool that notifies users about problems on their PCs and helps fix them. Windows Advisor scans users' PCs continuously, notifies them about important issues, and, when possible, suggests easy fix solutions. The program also provides users with self-help solutions, including a 1-click checkup function that enables them to check their PCs whenever they like; tips and tutorials that teach users how to perform certain actions on their PCs; and a toolbox that concentrates the important tools that are found in the operating system into one easy-to-find location."

Windows Advisor currently supports Windows XP Service Pack (SP) 2 and Windows Vista. The beta version is available in English only.

I asked Microsoft how long the company expected the Windows Advisor beta to last and how many testers it had invited to participate in it, via its private Connect test site. The only info the company would share, relayed by a spokeswoman:

"Microsoft is continually developing tools to help customers get the most out of their PC experience, and will keep you posted as we have more to share."

Any Windows Advisor testers out there want to weigh in? What about PC vendors and others who are incurring costs for Windows Vista support calls? Do you think this tool will help Vista's continuing image problem?