Just this week I heard a conversation to the effect of, "What did we do before Google?" Of course, that conversation goes off in a near infinite direction as we piece together the way modern people have found answers to issues - be they technical or not. However, while Google is great, and it has personally gotten me through some past IT assignments with flying colors, it doesn't really provide answers, at least not yet. Perhaps then, this is the aim of Microsoft's new Answer Desk - a one stop shop of sorts for sorting out PC and software issues, specifically those related to Microsoft's suite of products.
If you haven't heard of the Answer Desk just yet, it's not surprising - there isn't even a press release or front page fan fare at Microsoft.com. Instead, if you head over to answerdesk.com, you'll learn a little more about the services that are offered. Plus, PC World did a fairly investigative piece on how the free and "pay-as-you-go" options work. It sounds great, especially for offsetting what many Help Desks see taking significant portion of their day - training issues disguised as incidents. The reality may not be quite as clear.
At first glance it does look like a boon for empowering customers. They'll encounter an issue, and perhaps get a timely resolution - maybe even for free. Unfortunately, it could also create a potential nightmare for understanding the status and health of IT Assets (in the form of PCs and Software). Not to mention there is remote access software technicians at Microsoft will use to connect to a customer's PC - something your network may not support or authorize, and when it fails that likely means an incident will be submitted.
We're interested in seeing just how this service will take off, and we'll keep a close eye on any new developments. However, we'd love to hear from anyone already using the service. Perhaps even you are adding it to your repertoire of available tools for your users. Let us know by commenting here.