Microsoft revs up 'Fix it' support tool

Automates solutions for some Windows problems

Microsoft has ramped up a new Windows support assistant nearly three months after it quietly debuted the automatic repair and configuration tool.

Dubbed "Fix it for me," the tool is an adjunct to some of the support documents Microsoft posts to its Knowledge Base (KB), the company's online collection of hot-fix guidelines and trouble-shooting instructions. Those KB documents that include the automated support boast a button labeled "Fix it."

"Have you ever come across a Microsoft Knowledge Base (KB) article or been presented with a Windows Error Reporting (WER) solution and asked yourself, 'Why can't Microsoft just fix this for me?'" the "Fix it for me" blog reads. "Today, KB articles and WER solutions provide you with a list of steps that can be followed to resolve your issue," the post continued. "Our team's purpose is to automate the steps ... so you can click a button and have the issue resolved."

The blog also listed some of the Knowledge Base documents that boast a "Fix it" button, including one that prevents users from connecting a USB storage device -- useful in protecting against one of the infection vectors of the "Downadup" worm.

While the team posted just four Fix it-enabled documents in November and December 2008, it added 78 in January 2009, more than 30 of them last week alone.

Each "Fix it" is a separate, small download of a Windows installer package that when run, automates the manual steps spelled out in the appropriate KB document.

In a post last month to a message forum on the "WinVistaClub" Web site, someone who identified himself only as "Paul" and said he was part of the "Fix it" team at Microsoft, encouraged users to send feedback on the feature to the group at the fixit4me@microsoft.com e-mail address.

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Gregg Keizer

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