Tech Support one click away in Windows 10
All current versions of Windows don't excel when it comes to providing users with assistance when it comes to troubleshoot issues on the system.
The help is nearly useless and while some automated troubleshooting tools are integrated in newer versions of Windows, it is more often than not the case that more assistance is required to resolve an issue.
Microsoft maintains an official support website for customers and non-customers.
This ranges from chat and phone support to Microsoft's Answers community, a large web forum bringing users and Microsoft employees and MVPs together.
Quality of responses ranges from tips that are dead on to copy and paste responses that don't help out at all.
Starting with Windows 10 Build 10049, tech support options have become available directly in Windows 10.
Instead of having to visit Microsoft's Support website or Answers community, Windows 10 users get those options now directly in form of an application.
You open the application for now from them start menu by searching for Contact Support.
Update: Note that Microsoft changed the name of the application from Contact Support to Get Help in the Windows 10 Creators Update. You need to run a search for Get Help if you have the Creators Update or a newer version of Windows 10 installed.
It is unclear if options will be integrated into troubleshooting tools as well to inform users about those options but it would make sense if Microsoft would do so.
Three support options are displayed when you start the application that narrow down the support request.
- My device is for Windows, software and device related issues.
- Microsoft account & billing for account related help.
- Microsoft online services for the company's cloud based offerings such as OneDrive or Office365.
Four support options are provided on the my device page of which the first, ask the community, is the only one that is redirecting you to another website (the Microsoft Answers Community web forum.
Chat online with a Microsoft Answer Tech opens a chat interface right in the app highlighting the wait time and language support.
The last two options submits a request to Microsoft to call you back either immediately or on schedule. The wait time for the immediate option is displayed in the app window so that you know the approximate wait time.
Microsoft account & billing
This option redirects you to the Microsoft Account website.
Microsoft online services
Offers the same option as My Device. Open a chat with a support agent, schedule call backs or get redirected to the Microsoft Answers Community to get support there.
The support options are not entirely new but integration into the operating system itself makes lot of sense considering that users experience issues most of the time while using the system.
It depends a lot on the visibility of the application though. It may not help much if users don't know about the app or cannot locate it on the system.
Integration in the operating system's troubleshooting tools would make sense as it would improve the apps' visibility significantly.
Now You: Have you used Microsoft's chat or phone support before? How was it?
I recently used MS phone support when beginning my Win 8.1 install. Windows update kept quiting with an error. I spent probably 9 hours on the phone with 3 different reps from India, including one from “level 2” support, none of whom had a clue as to what they were doing. I think I reinstalled Win 8 three times. Finally started working and I was able to install Win 8.1. Totally awful experience. The new Microsoft CEO should bring tech support back to the USA!
As for the Answers Community, it is more like the “Lack of Answers Community”. Whenever I read those threads, I know why I canceled my account there. So many “help” is simply requests to post this or that and jump through this or that hoop. I think one of the major problems is that so many there are just trying to accumulate brag points (does MS give awards for high “help” points?).
Tech support is not easy, especially remotely. BUt if anyone should have the resources to do it correctly, one would expect Microsoft to be that company. Unfortunately, I can’t actually say that I have ever gotten quality level help from Microsoft.
9 hours, that is surprisingly long. Wonder why you did not just give up on receiving support after the first or second call you made.
Because I did not have a solution to the problem that was apparently being caused by MICROSOFT’s OWN WINDOWS UPDATE! Believe me, I was very annoyed and frustrated.
Not only was their help ‘helpless” but as far as I could discern, there were not any logs to reference that would have shown where or why Windows Update was crapping out. There is a Windows update log in the Windows folder but none of these people knew how to read it! According to the three Indian flacks I dealt with it, all they could do was try to install the fixes one by one to isolate the problem or reinstall/rebuild. A pox on you Microsoft!
“The new Microsoft CEO should bring tech support back to the USA!”
Good luck with that. $15/hr vs $2/hour. “Support” these days really isn’t set up to solve the tough problems, it’s set up to help noobs who think the monitor is the computer, and don’t know what a web browser is by name. Those people are a huge percentage of support calls.
Where companies spend money on support is on the corporate/business side.
Several articles appeared recently about the bad quality of answers.microsoft.com moderators, or rather inability of giving targeted help for a certain problem. They often just shooting in the dark with copy/paste recommendations. Here’s an example in supporting a recent issue with IE11 updates on Win7, see frustrated user Ifryt’s post in http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-windows_update/kb3038314-fails-to-install-get-the-error-80092004/596a3bb5-151d-4742-8eab-420e45840077?page=10&tm=1429457571199
I wonder how Win10’s additional support options going to change this.
Also the untested patches madness had happened in XP’s last years of extended support period is starting again, this time with Win 7 (as it looks like the above IE11 issue hits Win7 only). Something to consider for those who plan to stay on Win 7.
Best operating system after Linux
Best OS after Linux and OSX
As far as chat / phone support, they’ve had a very poor reputation for support over the years but I’ll be honest I’ve never actually tried to contact them. You can see a lot of reviews over at Amazon.com for experiences with Microsoft support and they’re generally very poor. I don’t know if that’s really an effective measure or if people who had poor experiences are the ones posting. As such, I went digging to find some analysis but I couldn’t find a clear comparison. Even PCMag didn’t list reviews of Windows or Office support.
As far as online / forum support, I very rarely use Microsoft help services and almost categorically find solutions elsewhere (such as places like Ghacks). By comparison, Apple’s online support has brought *some* success.
Anyway, it’s a good question. I’m cynical to the idea that Microsoft would both give away it’s operating system AND support for it, but I can’t see it succeeding in pushing back against the competition without doing both.