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Microsoft Ramps Up "Fix it" Support Tool

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the pretty-please dept.

Windows 144

CWmike writes "Microsoft has ramped up its new Windows support assistant 'Fix it for me' nearly three months after it quietly released the automatic repair and configuration tool. The upgrade adds a 'Fix it' button to some of the support documents that Microsoft posts to its Knowledge Base. The blog introducing the changes lists some of the Knowledge Base documents that boast the '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. Have ideas for the tool? In a forum on the 'WinVistaClub' Web site, someone who said he was part of the 'Fix it' team at Microsoft encouraged users to send feedback on the feature to the group at fixit4me@microsoft.com."

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What happens.... (5, Insightful)

Logical Zebra (1423045) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717223)

What happens when the "fix it tool" itself breaks?

Re:What happens.... (4, Interesting)

imcclell (138690) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717337)

I doubt most people would notice. When people click on something like that and nothing happens, they just assume it can't be fixed, not that the tool itself is broken.

Think of how many times they've run across a fix button that does nothing in antivirus and antispyware software. People just shrug their shoulders and go on.

Mind you, not a good attitude to have but people have it anyways.

File a complaint to Whispering Eye... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26717617)

Here [whisperingeye.com]
 
Just don't do this on company time.

Re:What happens.... (0, Troll)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717741)

When people click on something like that and nothing happens, they just assume it can't be fixed, not that the tool itself is broken.

I assume it's malware and respond appropriately, i.e. laugh when I'm on Linux, and disconnect physically, reboot in safe mode, and scan for malware on Windows.

Re:What happens.... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718709)

Almost right. On Windows, you poweroff as quickly as you feel like, boot Linux, and restore a known-good Windows disk image, preferably something from ntfsclone.

Re:What happens.... (4, Funny)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718831)

a known-good Windows disk image

Umm...

Re:What happens.... (2, Insightful)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718525)

And sadly, when People click on something like that, and what's supposed to happen happens, users get used to running applications from websites. This is a very bad thing indeed.

Re:What happens.... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26717409)

Then you just click the "fix it fix it" link.

Re:What happens.... (3, Funny)

garlicbready (846542) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717489)

(blue screen)
The Fix it Fix it Fix it Fix it tool has failed,
do you wish to Fix it or Fail?

Meta-fix It (1, Informative)

weighn (578357) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717885)

There's a meta fix for any broken Fit It tools available here [ubuntu.com] .

Re:Meta-fix It (1)

Nerdposeur (910128) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718407)

When I install Ubuntu and try to boot into it, I get a blinking cursor and nothing else.

Is there a Fix It tool for that, or do I have to learn how to compile the kernel or something?

Re:Meta-fix It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26718957)

it might just be as simple as getting a video card thats not 15 years old. I for one have never learned nor needed to learn how to compile a kernel in my few years of enjoying linux use. Its best to come to the plate with a bit of understanding that not all hardware manufacturers are on board, but generally they are the exception and not the norm.

Re:Meta-fix It (1)

Hucko (998827) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719343)

Sorry one click won't work; you need 6 clicks to install

Re:What happens.... (5, Funny)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717935)

That reminds me of a message we'd occasionally get in the early 90s working with either FoxPro or FoxBase:

"Error 201 while attempting to report Error 201"

(I don't know whether 201 was the actual number anymore)

Re:What happens.... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719163)

Here you go [microsoft.com] . Apparently it could be either error 14 or error 182, and it was in Visual FoxPro 7.0.

Re:What happens.... (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719231)

It may still have occurred by the time of VFP 7.0, but I remember it from the DOS days - I'm unsure whether it before or after Microsoft 'merged' with Fox.

I think the one I recall *was* error 14, though.

Re:What happens.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26717509)

They will release a Fix-it-Fix-it-tool of course,
and if that breaks... oh well...

Re:What happens.... (0, Troll)

credd144az (1078167) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717679)

I would think the (Fix-It)^(n+1) would suffice.

Of course, as a mac user, I would say OSX=(Fix-It)^(n+1). Who needs mod gratification anyway?

Re:What happens.... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Cowbell (1456535) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717527)

That presupposes that the Fix It tool will work in the first place

Ever tried to use the Repair option in MS Office? I've used it on dozens of installs, and it has never once repaired a GD thing

Re:What happens.... (5, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717691)

Why pick on office.

I've never once had an install repair utility fix ANY program EVER.

Re:What happens.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26717821)

Why pick on office.

...

Because it's indicative of the historical quality of Microsoft's "Fix it" crap.

Re:What happens.... (1)

Omniscientist (806841) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718243)

Then the problem was most likely unrelated to the integrity of the installation, since that's all Repair fixes.

Not my experience (2, Informative)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718319)

Way back in the day, when Pournelle was still posting on BIX and writing in Byte, he recommended Norton Windoctor. For a while, (before, like all Norton products, it was ruined by bloat), it automagically fixed Win95/98 and even some XP installations quite well.

Worth trying if you're trying to fix one of those old installations and don't really want to re-install.

Re:Not my experience (4, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26720103)

Actually, windows 98 had some half way decent fix tools inside it is you got into a jam. I'm surprised that there wasn't something more appropriate availible for the NT line.

Take regedit for instance, from a command line you could use the /opt switch to remove whitespace and more or less compact the registry resulting in a faster operating system. You could use the /fix switch that repaired file errors and did something with invalid keys that could cause all sorts of issues. You could even use the /restore switch to go to a recent version of the registry. You could also save an active state registry when everything was working fine, store it off the computer, then reload it when necessary. Of course the ERD programs sort of did this automatically but in WinNT systems, you have to do a repair install in order to restore something from it.

Fdisk also had the ability to back up the boot sector and store it on another drive. The chkdsk and fixboot utilities seem to have these functions but fail to restore more then the first partition leaving you sort of stuck doing data recovery instead of just having the second partitions.

There are quite a but more useful tools that came with windows 98. Most of the Fix it tools either automated their uses for most of us who didn't want to learn ever function of every file on the computer. Some of them actually replaced the tools with their own that could be run from recovery disks too. I imagine win doctor was similar to that. Something I generally liked was Fix It Utilities from ontrack/ it seems they are avanquest now (or maybe my memory is losing it). I haven't used them since version 5 or something, they are up to 9 now if that gives you an idea of how long ago we are talking.

Re:What happens.... (1)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719961)

I've never once had an install repair utility fix ANY program EVER.

I have. Specifically I used Windows XP recovery option to fix some boot files which were corrupted/deleted. Worked just fine.

See? Now my anecdotal evidence is as useful as yours.

Re:What happens.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719359)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
GD may refer to:
        Computing

        * GD Graphics Library for dynamically manipulating images
        * GD-ROM, storage media for the Sega Dreamcast
        * gd, ISO 639-1 code for Scottish Gaelic

        Medicine

        * Gaucher's disease (abbrev. GD), the most common of the lipid storage diseases.
        * Gestational diabetes (abbrev. GD or GDM), a form of diabetes associated with pregnancy.
        * Generalized dystonia (abbrev. GD), a neurological movement disorder.

        Geography

        * .gd, the country code top-level domain for Grenada
        * Grenada (ISO 3166 and WMO country code: GD; Internet TLD code: .gd)
        * Soman (NATO designation: GD)

        Entertainment

        * Grateful Dead (GD), an American rock band
        * Green Day (GD), an American rock band
        * God Damn (GD, a shorthand or text message way to say "God Damn"

        Business

        * General Dynamics (GD), is a US-based defense conglomerate
        * The Great Depression, sudden collapse of the economy in the 1920s

        Miscellanea

        * Gangster Disciples (GD), a multi racial street gang in the United States
        * General Delivery (abbrev. GD), also known as Poste Restante, a service where the post office holds mail until the recipient calls for it.
        * A euphemism for the curse word "goddamn"

Re:What happens.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719687)

* Gangster Disciples (GD), a multi racial street gang in the United States

This is the one I meant. Should be obvious from the context.

Re:What happens.... (5, Funny)

kjb542 (1411783) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717903)

Then you click on the "Fuck It" tool, which surreptitiously installs Linux....

Re:What happens.... (3, Funny)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718983)

Not to be confused with the "Fuck Me" tool, which surreptitiously installs Vista

Re:What happens.... (1)

mrphoton (1349555) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719165)

More importantly will be linux compatible?

But.. (5, Funny)

linal (1116371) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717263)

But Jim has already fixed it for me.

Re:But.. (1)

Skiron (735617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718119)

I doubt anybody outside England and under 40 years old gets that joke - and/but to be honest, I don't even Jim could fix MS crap.

Re:But.. (1)

Tdawgless (1000974) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718455)

I doubt anybody outside England and under 40 years old gets that joke

I know I don't.

Re:But.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26718457)

Please, England isn't the only part of Great Britain.

Re:But.. (1)

Skiron (735617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719537)

No it isn't. It is England.

Re:But.. (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718333)

For those non-Brit and/or youngsters out there:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Saville [wikipedia.org]

Re:But.. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26718549)

Surely this [wikipedia.org] would have been better to explain the joke?

Seems exploitable (5, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717317)

This seems rather exploitable, I wonder how long before we have viruses that hijack this application when an infected user tries to use it. They are better off with a good online knowledge base for common problems than some 'fix it for me' tool. Education is the key to solving the most common issues. I remember removing a number of viruses and spyware from this one ladies computer. She would then promptly go back and download the 'games' that gave her the viruses in the first place. Great for income, not so great when the customers accuses of you not fixing a problem the first time around. More times than not I feel like I should be working on the user instead of the PC. I guess all this goes back to the teach a man to fish analogy.

Re:Seems exploitable (4, Informative)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717839)

If the virus can modify the fixit binary then it already has admin access. Why would the author go through another hoop? Just attack the system.

The attack Im thinking of is spoofing the fixit4me button on a random webpage and hoping the user downloads your malware, but that's a trojan/social attack that works for just about anything (click here to install flash, etc).

Some kind of intelligent tool should be doable. Most PC problems are pretty basic and automating the fix straight from the KB makes sense for non-techies. I imagine a common scenario for this will be used by people who know a little tech, but are afraid of modifying the registry or installing a patch as opposed to the clueless grandma. This person would probably see the problem in the event viewer, click on the "what does this mean" button and be sent to the KB with the fixit tool sitting there.

>Education is the key to solving the most common issues.

Thats true of most problems, but a lot of people will never learn and simply will require hand-holding forever. Automated tools can do a lot of this hand-holding for them. Automated tools can also help those who understand the issue but may not be technical enough to perform their own fix.

Re:Seems exploitable (1)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719911)

Or the people like myself who have spent enough of their life fixing registry keys and other buggered things that could be automated had someone just bothered writing the damn script.

The KB is very useful for a lot of things but damnit, I hate manually editing a pile of registry keys... Give me a .reg already! (At least for the common and simple problems like swapping a bit in a binary key..)

Re:Seems exploitable (4, Insightful)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717875)

In addition to the possibility of exploits in this kind of system, I really worry about what it will do with respect to the very user education issue you mention.

If Microsoft's official site trains people to trust (and click on) an agreeable-looking "Fit it!" icon, it won't be long before other sites use a surprisingly similar-looking "Fit it!" icon to induce people to click on malware (and click through the various warnings that appear--after all, I trust this thing to fix my computer!). There will always be some users who are easily fooled... but Microsoft should not exacerbate the situation by making people comfortable with the idea of launching system-altering utilities directly from the web browser.

To me this is no better than the IT department asking you for your password. Yes, you should trust the IT department (and they could no doubt determine your password if they really wanted to)... but it creates a bad habit, where users are accustomed to emailing their passwords to whoever asks and seems even slightly legitimate.

Re:Seems exploitable (3, Insightful)

Rary (566291) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718359)

There's really nothing here to exploit that hasn't always existed.

All they've added to the KB document is a link to download an MSI file that, when executed, fixes the problem. As long as the web has existed it has been possible to put a link on a webpage saying "download this little utility which will fix all your problems, honest".

Really, it just makes sense. If you're already browsing Microsoft's knowledge base, and you've found the document that explains your problem, instead of following the step-by-step "fix it" instructions provided in the document, why not just click on a link that does the work for you.

So, now they're providing instructions for the people who want to do it themselves, and a convenient utility for the people who don't. Sounds reasonable to me.

Re:Seems exploitable (1)

Scholasticus (567646) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718415)

I do a little Windows maintenance for beer money, so what I'm about to write probably doesn't apply to you. Anyway, if I remove viruses or fix some other problem for somebody and then tell them how avoid the problem in the future, often they admit it's their fault. If they do that, I'll fix the same problem without question. If they blame me, I tell them to fix it themselves and never go back there again.

Re:Seems exploitable (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718753)

That would be the ultimate "Fixed it for you."

Re:Seems exploitable (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718819)

Whoops, meant to reply to this comment [slashdot.org] .

get hacking, guys! (5, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717361)

This seems like a great thing to try to hack. 5 bucks to the first one who gets the "Fix It" button to download and fire up an Ubuntu installer.

Re:get hacking, guys! (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717497)

5 bucks? That's the best you can do? At least make it worth my while. A free laptop, or a free iPod or a free annual paid-up subscription to Stream or free broadband for a year. Somethin'.

Re:get hacking, guys! (1)

clarkn0va (807617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718075)

I'll throw in another 5.

Re:get hacking, guys! (1)

kpainter (901021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718331)

5 bucks? That's the best you can do?

And you can steal his CC info.

Wubi, Wubi, true to me; now I have to pee! (4, Funny)

rts008 (812749) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717549)

Beat me to it.

As soon as I saw the headline, I wondered how long it would take for some intrepid joker to hack the site...linking all of the 'Fix It' buttons to 'Wubi.exe'.

  LOL!!! Hilarity then ensues!

The year of Linux on the Desktop, indeed...by hook or crook!!

I would have to celebrate this with a drunken ROFLCOPTER while wearing my Groucho Glasses, and making fart noises with my armpit!

Seriously: apturl. (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717721)

Actually, in all seriousness, it's possible for us to have this very technology on Linux: apturl [linutop.com] .

Since .deb packages can contain scripts and configuration files and whatnot, it wouldn't be too hard to create .deb packages that fix common problems.

Re:Seriously: apturl. (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718379)

This is just what we need, having the power of downloading and executing arbitrary code with a single click will finally put Linux on par with Internet Explorer!

Im with him. (2, Funny)

Noxn (1458105) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717917)

I will give 100 dollars to the guy who does this.
We should do some kind of campaign or contest for this.

So this will fix stuff for me? I dont really think this will work to well.

cmd:fixitforme.exe -get -girlfriend

Re:get hacking, guys! (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718023)

This seems like a great thing to try to hack. 5 bucks to the first one who gets the "Fix It" button to download and fire up an Ubuntu installer.

Sounds good for irony, but realistically, it would suck. Imagine a metric shitload of fresh Ubuntu users searching for drive C:.

However, it raises an interesting question: do we have good utilities to make migration easier?

Re:get hacking, guys! (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718303)

This seems like a great thing to try to hack. 5 bucks to the first one who gets the "Fix It" button to download and fire up an Ubuntu installer.

Sounds good for irony, but realistically, it would suck. Imagine a metric shitload of fresh Ubuntu users searching for drive C:.

However, it raises an interesting question: do we have good utilities to make migration easier?

Well, With WUBI, I hear it's a pretty nice install and they can still dual boot, so if it just installed itself that way and set it as the default, people could at least see it, and then if they paid attention at boot they could pick windows instead. Heh.
-Taylor

Re:get hacking, guys! (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718485)

Well, With WUBI, I hear it's a pretty nice install and they can still dual boot, so if it just installed itself that way and set it as the default, people could at least see it, and then if they paid attention at boot they could pick windows instead. Heh.

Does it resize partitions? Most Windows boxes I've seen have one big partition cover the whole drive. Does it copy the home directory over to the new system? How about multiple users? And other files? How much space does it claim? What if the home directory is larger?

We need some serious thinking to make this work.

(Side note: Firefox thinks "resize" is a typo.)

Re:get hacking, guys! (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718615)

Well, With WUBI, I hear it's a pretty nice install and they can still dual boot, so if it just installed itself that way and set it as the default, people could at least see it, and then if they paid attention at boot they could pick windows instead. Heh.

Does it resize partitions? Most Windows boxes I've seen have one big partition cover the whole drive. Does it copy the home directory over to the new system? How about multiple users? And other files? How much space does it claim? What if the home directory is larger?

We need some serious thinking to make this work.

(Side note: Firefox thinks "resize" is a typo.)

Wubi doesn't need it's own partition, and it doesn't change the bootloader. It runs from one folder in the windows partition. It may only support one user, nor sure about that, but aside from that I've heard its basically identical to a clean install. It can be installed in one click too, so it would be great for this kind of thing (although i don't actually suggest we try that, it would make people think linux was just a virus or something).

But yeah, wubi is neat, I haven't tried it, but the site here explains more: http://wubi-installer.org/ [wubi-installer.org]
-Taylor

Re:get hacking, guys! (4, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718801)

It can be installed in one click too, so it would be great for this kind of thing (although i don't actually suggest we try that, it would make people think linux was just a virus or something).

That's a stupid idea anyway. Linux is about choice. We only take the willing :)

Re:get hacking, guys! (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718803)

That would be the ultimate "Fixed it for you."

(Accidentally posted it here [slashdot.org] .)

What does it do? (1, Redundant)

Pete LaGrange (696064) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717393)

Install Linux?

Re:What does it do? (1)

morcego (260031) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718517)

Considering that at least 90% of the time the user is the source of the problem, it will probably kill the user.

That's a step in the right direction (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26717437)

ultimately they need to add a "Fuck It" button that, when pressed, formats the HD and installs Ubuntu

Re:That's a step in the right direction (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26718265)

fuck ubuntu. use a real distro. ubuntu sounds and smells like ass.

Zen (5, Interesting)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717477)

the '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.

Funny, something I just sent a co-worker fits this.

"Everything, from people to rocks, axiomatically has a basic nature to what it does, what it just tends to do and how. I find life is much simpler and more pleasant when I recognize what that is, and interact on it/he/she/they on it's own terms and in its own way. This G-D net-nanny [or, in TFA's case, "Fix It" disabling functionality] stuff is just another example of what screws up human existence: instead of facilitating things happening, it stands in the way and interferes in obtuse ways."

The problem isn't people attaching USB storage devices, it's that OS design flaws allow for malicious misuse. Of course, M$'s "Fix It" solution is to kill the messenger, not fix the "yeah I'll do anything you say" OS - and we all know what kind of annoyance, headaches, breakage and new infection vectors will follow as a result.

"yeah I'll do anything you say" OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26718049)

I thought that was how an OS is supposed to be.

You can bet MS will get flamed whenever they prevent my OS from doing whatever I want.

Here they get flamed for listening to me.

Re: "yeah I'll do anything you say" OS (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719139)

The problem isn't that you can do what you want with your OS. The problem is that there are so many holes in its security that programs that you don't even know exist and are communicating with your system can do what they want as well.

Re:Zen (1)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719159)

There are lots of work places where they do not want you to bring classified documents home on a USB stick. Some of them even runs Linux!

My idea (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26717603)

A kbase entry with a "fix it" button for when my network card is not working.

Re:My idea (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718087)

A kbase entry with a "fix it" button for when my network card is not working.

Ouch. You hit my sweet spot right there.

I remember all too well the fresh XP installs and my broken driver CD.

"Hmmm, the network driver is hosed. I know, I'll look it up on Goo... AAARRRRGGGHHH!"

As my family's support guy..... (5, Insightful)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717605)

none of them even Google on how to fix a problem.(I know why should they when they got me.) I talked to a family friend about issues with her computer. She took it to Best Buy and didn't like the way they sounded ($79 to diagnose the problem and then more to fix. The $79 was to be put towards any fixes that may arise. They gave the creeps.), so I talked to her.

The problem with her computer was between the chair and the keyboard. Anyway, to shorten the story, I asked her if she's ever Googled for answer to her problems or looked at the manual. Nope.

Folks like that who would actually benefit from something like that will never come across it because they don't even think of searching the net for a solution; let alone of actually reading the manual and following the trouble shooting guide in the back.

People like us, tech savy, will never trust a script like that from MS.

This is doomed to fail.

I'll also give them (4, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718675)

That their tools can detect some things you might not think to look for. I've used the "Check for solutions online," thing before. Usually it doesn't get anything, meaning no answer found. Sometimes, it gets generic info that I already knew. Like it'll say "Your graphics driver caused the crash," which is evident from the STOP 0xA in nv4_disp.dll. No real fix, but that could be useful to someone less knowledgeable. I happen to know the files for the graphics driver, and what a STOP 0xA error is, most users probably don't.

However occasionally, it has been real useful. For example I was trying to install a Sound Blaster X-Fi. I'd launch it's installation CD, and it would crash. Had no idea what was going on. I decided "Ok smart guy, go ahead and check." It responded that Quicktime was the problem. Fine, I'll play ball, I uninstall Quicktime. Sure as shit, installer runs fine. Not something I ever would have though to check.

So while I certainly won't be running an automated fix script, I do applaud them in trying to increase their ability to check system errors. While I know everyone on Slashdot likes to give MS shit about being the source of all problems, that's really not the case. 3rd party software causes plenty of trouble.

Better than nothing (0, Troll)

sjwest (948274) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718701)

Vista is bloody awful to fix. My parents new hp laptop (12 months old) has seen three vista reinstalls, Good knows what foo bars Vista boot process.

There users, Installing software is not something they do, they use firefox, ie is disabled (as much as it can be)

I can believe that ms shipped that pile of ****.

Re:As my family's support guy..... (1)

eulernet (1132389) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718721)

Sorry, but you are wrong when you say that the problem is between the chair and the keyboard.

It's probably true for 99% of people, but not in my case.
I'm a developer.
I just installed dotNet 3.5 SP1, and it broke entirely my Visual Studio running on Vista, and I can assure you that I'm an advanced user, and I don't install any malware.
After a few hours of work, I discovered that my problem is some obscure registry permissions, that Vista f**ed badly. I'm currently applying an obscure subinacl command.
This is the second time I had such problems on Vista (and on 2 different computers !).

So please, stop saying that the error always comes from the user, in my case it's due to the OS !

Re:As my family's support guy..... (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718797)

Good thing most users are neither like you, nor like your family member! Users come all along the spectrum, so it doesn't necessarily mean failure to launch a product which doesn't appeal to the people on the edges of the bell curve.

I predict failure for another reason: I assume that this feature will simply not work.

Re:As my family's support guy..... (1)

Jophiel04 (1341463) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718987)

I think this is definitely the wrong approach to the problem. Everyone wants their computer to work properly but too many users are completely lost when it comes to fixing a problem. Rather than giving them a fix it for me button, better education about how to use the operating system, and a better knowledge-base would be a much better thing for everyone in my opinion.

If Microsoft wants to really help the masses, I think an online video series on their website that people could stream, essentially a video tutorial of how to use the OS, and offering some basic security tips would be far more productive. As to Microsoft's ability to do that competently, that is a whole other matter.

Teach people to fish, don't show them how to microwave fishsticks..

Next Logical Step (5, Funny)

NonUniqueNickname (1459477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717623)

Can we get a "Don't break this for me" checkbox instead?

Re:Next Logical Step (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26718423)

Let's hope for "cancel" and "allow" buttons to be replaced with the more accurate :
"Please, for the love of God, NOOOO!" and "I'm feeling lucky..."

Re:Next Logical Step (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26718567)

That'll always be a feature of the next version of Windows. Thanks for your suggestion!

Sincerely,
Microsoft

Comic book guy says... worst. Idea.. EVER (-1, Redundant)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717791)

The MOST ANNOYING thing is this silly fix-it tool that MS has. The only time I've seen it on Vista is when I am seeking a network connection, and somehow my wireless card is turned off. (Turned off intermittently for some unknown reason I haven't bothered to figure out)

Instead of automatically turning my wireless card on, or even prompting me and saying "your wireless card has been turned off (for some stupid, unknown reason), do you want me to turn it back on?". It says "I've encountered a problem, click here to fix". I then click to go to fix the problem, click to accept their solution to the problem and do a couple more clicks to actually reconnect to my network.

How about a "if system is in 'x' state and user takes 'y' action, and there's only one solution the 'fix it' tool has, just display the damn fix, or under certain circumstances, do it automatically!"

Could be useful... (5, Interesting)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717901)

I've always thought it was strange how KB articles can get to have some really complicated actions, yet they can't just give you a script to do what they're telling you to do. That would be really helpful.

Here's an example of something i saw the other day:

1. Insert the CD into the CD drive or DVD drive.
      2. Click Start, and then click Run.
      3. In the Open box, type cmd, and then click OK.
      4. At the command prompt, type the following commands, pressing ENTER after each command:

            expand CD-ROM Drive Letter:\i386\config.nt_ c:\windows\system32\config.nt
            expand CD-ROM Drive Letter:\i386\autoexec.nt_ c:\windows\system32\autoexec.nt
            expand CD-ROM Drive Letter:\i386\command.co_ c:\windows\system32\command.com
            exit
      5. Start or install the program. If the issue is resolved, do not complete the remaining steps. If the issue is not resolved, go to the next step.
      6. Note: The Command.com file is not edited or created in the following process. Because of this, you may have to expand it from your Windows XP CD-ROM.

            Start Notepad.
      7. In Notepad, type the following entries:

                  dos=high, umb
            device=%SYSTEMROOT%\system32\himem.sys
            files=40

      8. On the File menu, click Save As.
      9. In the File Name box, type Config.nt, and then click Save. Close the Config.nt file.
    10. On the File menu, click New.
    11. In the new blank document, type the following entries:

            @echo off
                    lh %SYSTEMROOT%\system32\mscdexnt.exe
                    lh %SYSTEMROOT%\system32\redir
                    lh %SYSTEMROOT%\system32\dosx
                    SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 P330 T3

    12. On the File menu, click Save As.
    13. In the File Name box, type Autoexec.nt, and then click Save. Close the Autoexec.nt file.
    14. Start Windows Explorer. Locate the Config.nt file, right-click the Config.nt file, and then click Copy.
    15. Right-click the %SYSTEMROOT%\System32 folder, and then click Paste.
    16. Locate the Autoexec.nt file, right-click the Autoexec.nt file, and then click Copy.
    17. Right-click the %SYSTEMROOT%\System32 folder, and then click Paste.
    18. Locate the Command.com file, right-click the expanded Command.com file, and then click Copy.
    19. Right-click the %SYSTEMROOT%\System32 folder, and then click Paste. Restart your computer.

If the issue continues to occur, copy the Autoexec.nt and Config.nt files from the Repair folder in Windows to the System folder. To do so, follow these steps:

      1. Click Start, click Run, type c:\windows\repair, and then click OK.
      2. Right-click Autoexec.nt, and then click Copy.
      3. Click Start, click Run, type c:\windows\system32, and then click OK.
      4. Right-click anywhere in that folder, and then click Paste.
      5. Right-click the Autoexec.nt file that you just copied, and then click Properties.
      6. Click to select Read-Only, and then click OK.
      7. Repeat steps 1 through 6 to copy the Config.nt file.

Note You must enable Read-Only permissions or the files will be removed after you restart Windows.

They can't just give me a script to run? It's simple for me to do all that, but time consuming and annoying.
-Taylor

Re:Could be useful... (4, Interesting)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718003)

Exactly. What I always found frustrating is the "You could damage your computer by using regedit" warnings. but then the instructions say to navigate to this key, then this key, then this one, and right-click here, new, and be sure to use DWORD because if you specify any other type it won't work.

It would be so much easier to just "Save this.reg file and double-click on it." that way it's impossible for the idiot user to screw up. At least closer to impossible anyway.

Or at least give a way to navigate directly to the subkey, like a "goto line number" function in a text editor. Of course they do have the "Select a file" dialog that allows you to select by clicking and waiting for the folder browser to read all the files and folders, and the subfolders as well to determine if it needs to put a plus sign there, but not paste in something from the clipboard which you already have. so maybe it was the same design team.

Re:Could be useful... (1)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718241)

When Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 Beta came out, I was interested in installing it and looking at it. However, I had to be able to revert to pre-SP1 fast if I needed to. The uninstall procedure (for a beta) involved over twenty different actions, to be performed manually in order, with vague but dire warnings for those who strayed from the path.

Now, of course, there's a script to uninstall VS 2008 SP1. My colleague who used it said it took about two hours. You see, he needed to install the 64-bit compilers, and couldn't find a way other than to uninstall and reinstall VS, and couldn't just uninstall it without uninstalling the service pack.

Re:Could be useful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26718779)

VMware, baby. When you can't have parallel installs on the same machine, switch to a virtualized dev environment.

Anyway, I don't think VS 2008 SP1 is quite as critical as SP1 for Visual C++ 2005, which fixed a huge goddamn memory leak that resulted from completely normal usage of stringstreams.

Re:Could be useful... (4, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718261)

I've always thought it was strange how KB articles can get to have some really complicated actions, yet they can't just give you a script to do what they're telling you to do.

And then they have the nerve to tell us Linux is complicated.

Re:Could be useful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719639)

Surely this is a lot of the problem. Following detailed guidelines like these are okay as long as 1) they work, and 2) the user is not the least bit interested in *why* something has gone wrong.

Re:Could be useful... (2, Insightful)

rantingkitten (938138) | more than 5 years ago | (#26720113)

Amazing. This is what it takes to solve many Microsoft-related problems (ones that aren't "solved" by reinstalling something, which isn't a solution), yet thousands of Windows fanboys proudly thump their chests at how usable it is, while making snotty remarks if a Linux user has to so much as glance sideways at an xterm.

And at least in Linux, a cursory knowledge of any Unix-based system is enough to get around. There are manpages for stuff. There are things that explain what these options or those switches do, and logfiles to help you understand what's going wrong, so there are ways to figure out, on your own, what to do.

I'm a veteran user/admin of both systems and the above KB article, and tons more like it, completely flummox me. Sure, I could mindlessly execute the instructions but there's no way I'd ever figure out to do any of that on my own, and I don't see any way to deduce any of it either. To even understand half of it requires some knowledge of should-be-obsolete-by-now DOS hijinks. And just what the hell is "SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 P330 T3"?

It just astonishes me that gibberish like the above, or having to manually expand cab files, or alter hex values buried thirteen layers deep in the registry, or extract files out of a CD by hand, is considered okay by so many, but god forbid you instruct a user to "apt-get install" something, because ha! ha! that's just difficult and non-intuitive!

Ha! Fixit, you install Linux, that would be funny (1)

AssTard (684911) | more than 5 years ago | (#26717977)

ah ha ah ah ah ah Fix it! Hey, get this crappy Microsoft off my computer! If it would install Linux that would be awsome. Becuz my programs woudl still work, right?

Fix it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26718043)

Step 1: FIX!
Step 2: IT!
Step 3: FIX IT!

"[...] that boast the 'Fix it' button [...]" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26718139)

Well, maybe there wouldn't be so much boasting if it had written 'Why the hell was I broken in the first place?' on it instead....

Well (1)

fluor2 (242824) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718293)

It's just scripted patches with e.g. included modified files, but included within an MSI.

I don't see why this cannot be deployed as patches/hotfixes instead of just calling it "FIX IT" scripts.

I find this amusing. My guess is that Microsoft had so many "IT Professionals" reporting that the fixes in KB articles failed due to UAC blocking them, thus this fix it is coming to town, popping up a window asking for administration privileges.

This is microsoft (0, Troll)

moniker127 (1290002) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718351)

If they can put in a "fix it" button, why cant they just put the fucking thing into the software, and make it fix its self, or better yet, not get broken? Its understandable a third party comes up with this sort of thing, because they dont have access to the windows core, but microsoft does, so they should just freaking fix the problems. I think its the same for their antivirus program.

yeah because the linux way is way simpler. (1)

prozaker (1261190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718427)


you just open up the browser and put in your question. then search between vulnerability reports and archived mailing lists.
or posting on some forum and wait for your question to be answered.
wait, that doesn't seem better...

including one that prevents users from connecting (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718497)

including one that prevents users from connecting a USB storage device

OK, I've read the blog, still can't find the UBS autorun fix. Considering that it is well knows that just turning off Autorun in XP doesn't really work, it very well might be nice to have this fix. Anyone know where the "fix it" link to this is?

Re: including one that prevents users from connect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719117)

See this link for a description of the program, as well as a link to all automated articles:

http://support.microsoft.com/fixit

The article you are after is here:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/823732

thanks (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719361)

Thanks. This does indeed seem to be what the /. summary was talking about, but I was hoping for a fix-it that just corrects the autorun problems in XP, which would prevent many of the viruses that are transmitted by USB flash drives and other autorun things automatically starting and infecting you before you can even inspect them. I guess I have to admit that if you completely muck things up so that a USB storage device can't be used at all that this might also "fix" the Microsoft created problem, at least in Microsoft's mind, but it turns out to not really be the fix-it that I was hoping for.

Re:thanks (2, Informative)

Schmoov (1468671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719983)

Send e-mail to fixit4me@microsoft.com with your automation recommendation. The team will analyze the request, attempt to understand all of the scenarios, and post a Fix it package.

Microsoft needs to fix the defaults of Windows (2)

jonwil (467024) | more than 5 years ago | (#26718833)

For example, there is no legitimate reason for AutoRun to work on any device other than an optical disk (and even then, the rationale is debatable given the crap Sony pulled with the rootkit). Change the default to make AutoRun only work for optical disks.

Or that stupid "hide extensions for known file types" which just makes it harder to tell the difference between porn.jpg (harmless pornography) and porn.jpg.exe (malware pretending to be harmless pornography)

Also, lets disable the stuff in Outlook and Outlook Express (and other mail clients) that allows code to run just by reading an email. Better yet, introduce "show only text, not HTML" options ala SeaMonkey and others and encourage users to use those options. HTML email is only used for SPAM and other nasty stuff.

Re:Microsoft needs to fix the defaults of Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719045)

Send e-mail to fixit4me@microsoft.com with your automation request.

What the internet needs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26720023)

Is http://fixitfailblog.org

HA! (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#26720065)

I would rather download a nice little utility [microsoft.com] , but Microsoft seems to want to take this direction [microsoft.com] . Now that's progress!

You may find it easier to follow the steps if you burn down your house first.

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