When it comes to tech support for their products, Microsoft tries to handle most requests via websites like Microsoft Answers or the Microsoft Support website. Depending on the product, problem and country, phone support may be available.
Some support requests redirect users to the new Answer Desk website which - according to Microsoft - is a premium online support service. It is certainly no coincidence that Answer Desk is also the name of Microsoft's in-store service.
The service offers 24/7 support for Microsoft products on the Internet. Customers are either charged by the hour or by service that they request. A two hour virus removal and protection session for instance sets you back $99. You get 60 minutes of premium Microsoft software support or advanced PC tune up for the same price, while one hour long personal training sessions are available for $49 each.
Each page lists what the service may include and the answer tech support members available for the session.
A particular support service, like virus removal and protection may include several support related tasks. It may include removal of viruses, spyware and malware, installation of Microsoft Security Essentials, an audit of the PC's security configuration or a comprehensive PC health diagnosis.
Support sessions will take place over chat or phone, and remote connections to customer PCs will be established should the need arise. Customers need to have a Windows Live ID which they use to sign in on the Answer Tech website.
The service is currently only available to users from the United States. Proxies or vpns may display the site's contents but it is still not that easy to get tech support as a US address is also required for the service (likely a credit card associated with a US address).
Visitors from outside the United States will receive the following notification message:
Sorry,this site restricted to US visitors only
Dear Answer Desk visitor We believe that your IP address may be from outside the United States. If you think we have incorrectly detected from where you are visiting, please proceed. In order to make purchases, your address will need to reside within the United States.
If you are outside the United States, we welcome you to visit any of the online resources listed below to help you with your Microsoft product questions.
Microsoft Solution Centers:
Microsoft Fixit Center:
Currently, we are working to expand our service internationally to best support all Microsoft customers.
Microsoft Answer Desk Team.
It all comes down to how effective the service is. I personally would not mind paying $49 for one hour training sessions or even $99 if I had a pressing problem in a Microsoft product that I could not find an answer for. Microsoft backs the service with a 30-day service guarantee.