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James Senior at Microsoft: Like a kid in a candy store

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Users who support themselves

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Ok, so here's the scenario, you're an IT Manager and one of your users has a problem.  They don't know how to connect to the wireless network in your office.  So what do they do?  They ring the IT support desk because they want you to help them.  One of your helpdesk staff answers the phone and walks them through how to get online.  It takes them 5 minutes - time that could be better spent with other more serious problems, updating scripts or playing solitaire.

Did you spot the point at which the user's problem became your problem?  It was when they picked up the phone.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could allow your users to help themselves?  Not only would it help reduce the costs of running your help desk but also help channel the efforts of your staff into something more productive.

The new help system in Windows Vista helps you to realise these goals.  It's more intuitive and integrated than the version in XP, and uses something called Guided Help.  Using Guided Help, Vista shows your users the light, so to speak, by taking them through a series of easy-to-follow steps so they can resolve problems they have themselves.

This feature has great potential when it comes to automating the resolution of support calls that are heard most frequently by support teams.  It also has relevance with ISVs who can provide interactive documentation on their software, allowing users to have a much better experience and quickly achieve their objectives.

Support staff or ISVs can quickly and easily create custom Guided Help topics using some seperately downloadable tools that I will describe soon in another post about authoring Guided Help Topics.

Coming soon: I'm doing a screencast on Guided help which I'll publish shortly - stay tuned!

 

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  • If help is so great in Vista/Office 2007, then give Office 2007 to an office 2000 power user and let them tear their hair out for half an hour looking for the File menu.

    Of course, pressing F1 and typing "where is the file menu" won't actually give you any useful help.

    But Guided Help is such a cool name!  So forget the end-users, think of the great Powerpoint presentations you'll be able to give to senior management to explain the massive hardware upgrades you'll all need to run Vista.

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