PCsupport offers one-stop Web support

PCsupport.com wades into the deepening pool of electronic-support Web sites with its launch this week of PC Support Center, which promises technical services and advice easily accessible to even novice PC users.

There's a growing need for PC technical support, and the Web is a great resource, says Mike McLean, CEO of PCsupport.com. But whether you seek the latest update for your software, or want answers to seemingly simple questions, finding them on the Web can be a frustrating experience. PC Support Center brings everything together to make it easy to solve PC problems, McLean says. "Our goal is to minimise downtime and frustration."

To that end, the site offers a handful of free services. Current services include a hard disk scanner that removes file junk to improve performance, and a software update program that helps keep your applications current. With its backup program, you can store up to 25MB of your precious data there, and additional space is available for a fee. The site will offer a virus scanner in the future.

PCsupport.com also offers technical support information. One forum, powered by Expert Exchange, is set up for people to ask and answer questions. Site visitors who provide good answers accumulate points. Besides an ego boost, highly ranked users can win prizes such as notebook PCs, McLean says.

Soon the site will offer additional live technical support including a PC telechat feature, which will help you get specific questions answered in three to four minutes. Farther down the road there will be telephone support, too. Fees for upcoming live support services are not yet set, McLean says.

PCsupport.com wants to provide the best services in an all-in-one site, and that requires a vendor-neutral approach, McLean says. "Our sole goal is to provide support -- not sell more products."

Not Navigator-friendly

I pointed my Netscape browser to the site and found it doesn't yet support any Netscape browsers (support is coming soon), and Internet Explorer users must have version 4.0 or higher. I'm guessing if I'd made it to the software upgrade service, it would have told me to get a new browser.

Instead of changing my browser, I jumped on a colleague's Internet Explorer 5.0-equipped machine and headed back. With the right browser the site is easy to navigate, although access to free services requires registration. It's a painless process, and minutes later I was perusing the free services and tech-support forums.

The disk maintenance service went to town cleaning up my borrowed PC's hard drive, and after some installation problems the software update eventually provided a long list of suggestions and links. The tech-support forums are a bit confusing at first, but spend some time browsing and you'll net some useful information. A site feature worth mentioning is The Advocate, where you can pan or applaud a vendor's service, and even ask for assistance.

At its debut, PC Support.com offers some useful services and information. Future features sound promising, depending on the fee structure for items such as live technical support.

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Tom Mainelli

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