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Secret TechNet Tips & Tricks

Secret TechNet Tips & Tricks

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This week at TechEd, I had the chance to sit in on a roundtable discussion with 5-6 IT manager-types, including several Microsoft MVPs. Throughout the course of the discussion, which included some questions like “what’s one thing you wish Microsoft would do better, of fix?” a few items came up that I think we actually have a decent solution for.

Problem is, no-one knows about it!

So, I thought I’d blog it.

Problem: It’s hard to look up solutions for error codes. I always go to – what does Microsoft have? After all, it’s THEIR error code!

Solution: Many months ago, Microsoft began indexing its Events & Errors database for Live Search. TechNet search is powered by Live Search and you can enter error codes into the search field in the TechNet site masthead to look up solutions. I tried this with “error 721.”


As you can see, we also have a handy auto-complete feature running that makes it easier to enter your code and see all the other errors and codes.

When you execute the search, on the search results page (1,890 hits), you can also use our search refinements, which “re-shapes” the search queries to increase the relevancy of content from specific sources, like the KB, Blogs, etc.

Notice that one of the refinements is for “Events and Errors.”


At this point, there are only 11 results for “error 721,” so it should be much easier to review the hits and see it helps.


Problem: Sometimes I need TechNet Library content offline, like when I’m flying or just…offline. Other sites help me with that. Why not Microsoft?

Solution: Last year, Microsoft created a utility called “Package This” to help customers download sections of the MSDN and TechNet Libraries. You can download it from CodePlex, Microsoft’s Open Source Project Hosting site. Here’s the “What it Does” text from the CodePlex site:

Package This is a GUI tool written in C# for creating help files (.chm and .hxs) from the content obtained from the MSDN Library or the TechNet Library via the MSDN Content Service. You select the content you want from the table of contents, build a help file, and use the content offline. You are making personalized ebooks of MSDN or TechNet content. Both help file formats also give full text search and keyword search.

Problem: Community (aka user-generated) content can be sprawling and random, especially in forums. It should be easier to quickly see the question and the answer.

Solution: In a recent release of our MSDN and TechNet forums, we reformatted the thread view so the answer to the question is right up at the top – all the other replies are below.

Check it out:



Hope this helps!

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  • Amazing. I was thinking MS needs to do A LOT in terms of making its search better. Google is way better that MS/technet or Bing in terms of text search. Nice to see MS has taken the first step!!!

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