Page last updated at 11:44 GMT, Friday, 6 February 2009

Microsoft debuts quick fix clicks

Fixit logo, Microsoft
The Fix It button now appears on about 100 support pages.

Common Windows problems could soon be solved by clicking a "Fix It" button.

Microsoft has started putting the button on its web-based support pages that detail the most common problems hitting PC and Windows users.

Clicking the button kicks off a download that, once run, carries out the series of steps needed to fix a specific problem or remove a bug.

Microsoft also has plans to extend the click-to-fix system to help users recover from a crash.

Problem pages

The "Fix It" button first started to appear on Microsoft's support pages in late 2008. Now it appears on more than 100 separate entries, Lori Brownell, Microsoft's general manager of product quality and support told tech news website Cnet.

Microsoft has kicked off a project to trawl through the thousands of pages in its support system to find problems that can be fixed by the quick fix tool.

The button helps Windows users fix common problems, such as restoring the Internet Explorer icon to the desktop and enabling a DVD library in Vista's media centre.

Using the tool is not mandatory and people will be able to follow the steps outlined in support articles themselves, rather than rely on the scripted fix.

Microsoft is also planning to extend the quick fix system to its bug reporting system, so it comes to life after a crash or other software problem. In the future, rather than simply report a problem, Windows users will get the chance to fix it.

"Microsoft has a huge database of all the problems that people experience," said Tim Danton, editor of PC Pro, "and they'll know the common pages that people go to as well."

"But," he added, "the trouble is that computers are horribly complicated things and there are so many companies loading up different pieces of software."

Problems can emerge when those different programs conflict, said Mr Danton, and teasing out which one is the culprit can be tricky.

However, he added, a small number of problems have obvious symptoms that could be fixed automatically.

Beyond that small number Microsoft might be better advised to leave well alone because of the "diminishing returns" involved in too much tinkering.

"The best way to get help is to find someone that knows their way around computers," he said.

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