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Microsoft Windows IT

Microsoft Quietly Previews PC Advisor Repair Tool 151

Posted by timothy
from the give-that-bob-a-blowtorch-and-a-monocle dept.
notthatwillsmith writes "On Friday, Microsoft invited members of the Windows Feedback Program to try out a preview of a new application, the Microsoft PC Advisor. The new tool promises to 'continuously monitor your PC for problems and give you the solutions to fix them, in real time.' After testing on several Vista machines with a variety of problems, Maximum PC has written a full report on the Microsoft PC Advisor. The short version? Like every other 'PC Repair' tool they've tested, the new apps signal-to-noise ratio is quite bad, and it misses the obvious and important problems, like out-of-date videocard drivers."
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Microsoft Quietly Previews PC Advisor Repair Tool

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  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @04:45PM (#25348087) Journal
    Such a perfect set-up, is just asking for:

    Did it detect the problem that Windows was installed, and recommend replacing it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by solevita (967690)
      I've been using the Ubuntu install CD to fix Windows problems for years now; never fails ;-)
      • Actually, I realize that was tongue in cheek but this is pretty useful even if you don't use Linux primarily. I still use Windows 90% of the time, but when the hard drive failed on my parents computer I used a LiveCD to back up the data and reinstall Windows.
        • by 10scjed (695280)

          ...but when the hard drive failed on my parents computer I used a LiveCD to back up the data and reinstall Windows.

          So then, the hard-drive didn't actually fail, Windows did ;^ )

          • Well, the hard drive had bad sectors for no apparent reason. I'm not entirely sure what happened though, because it's still working, but I make regular backups in case it fails again. The nice thing was that after reinstalling Windows was noticeably faster. In any case, my point still stands, Linux LiveCDs are immensely useful for people even if they don't use Linux much.
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              the hard drive had bad sectors for no apparent reason. I'm not entirely sure what happened though, because it's still working, but I make regular backups in case it fails again.

              A harddisk developing bad sectors is a harddisk that is dying and should be replaced ASAP. You make backups, but do you do backup verification? Because if you don't, the files backed up could be corrupt and a corrupt backup is pretty much as bad as no backup at all.

              Replace that disk....

              • Hmm, that's probably true. I'm not sure if it was actually bad sectors because I had been fiddling around with some tool that purported to fix Windows Update problems and after running it and trying to reboot it failed to reboot. I then used RIPLinux to save what data I could, which was most of the data except for a few megabytes worth. I probably should replace the hard drive but it'd be kind of annoying and I think I'm going to just build them a new computer anyway sometime in the near future.
    • by cmacb (547347) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @11:40PM (#25351215) Homepage Journal

      "PC ADvisor has determined that your machine is unacceptably slow. You have probably installed, uninstalled and re-installed too many programs in response to PC ADvisor's previous suggestions. Now your Registry is hosed.

      PC ADvisor recommends you now re-format your hard drive and do a fresh install of Windows.

      Please have your credit card handy as I can assist you with repurchasing any software for which you have lost the appropriate paperwork.

      Remember it was YOU who accepted all those terms and conditions without reading them, don't blame PC ADvisor.

      And do not call and complain to those hard working programmers at Microsoft, they are far too busy innovating new features like PC ADvisor to have to deal with your silly little printer issues. Windows and Office together probably cost as much as your entire PC, but that DOES NOT include the manpower to listen to you bitch and moan over the telephone. Suck it up, admit you are the cause of your own problems and do as I say.

      Do it NOW or PC ADvisor will punish you further!

  • by Zironic (1112127) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @04:56PM (#25348183)

    This tool seems to be made to improve user experience for non technical users and the whole review goes on and on that technical user could already do these things by himself.

    • Not exactly. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday October 12, 2008 @05:05PM (#25348251)

      The tool did NOT find the problem that was causing their crashes. Which was that their video drivers were to versions behind.

      What the tool DID "find" was mostly meaningless (empty IE's temp folder and such).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tubal-Cain (1289912)

        (empty IE's temp folder and such)

        I prefer to use CCleaner [ccleaner.com] for cleanup like that. My only gripe is that it isn't Open Source.

        • by Lennie (16154)

          Just like Windows, it isn't Open Source either. Maybe if you want to use Open Source you might look into not using Windows...?

    • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @06:13PM (#25348703) Homepage

      where exactly does the review say that?

      the author's major complaints against the tool seem to be:

      • PC Checkup diagnoses non-problems (UAC being disabled, desktop shortcut pointing to wrong version of a program, the use of a custom power profile)
      • offers useless tips (empty Temporary Internet Files, enable IE's phising filter, turn on Windows Firewall)
      • missed obvious problems like outdated drivers which were causing actual system crashes
      • rest of the menus were just shortcuts to the control panel or other pre-existing Windows content/features

      it sounds like the author's evaluation that this program offers non-fixes for non-problems seems like a pretty accurate one. he does give the program benefit of the doubt and states:

      ...the PC Checkup functionality could deliver some interesting functionality, especially if it develops the ability to suss out real PC problems...

      i think they were just expecting what MS tried to promise--a program that would actually help troubleshoot computer problems. but in the end, Microsoft's PC Advisor Repair Tool suffers the same problem as other PC repair programs--they don't work.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)
        That is why I use appget [app-get.com] instead of those useless Windows "repair tools". Because if you have more than a couple of programs installed trying to keep up with updates for them all is too big a PITA. With Appget I run it once a week and it gives me a nice list of which programs are out of date,and usually a direct download link to the home page or the updated app. Nice to have for those of us on Windows.
      • The new version much simplifies the interface and should fix this. The core routine is :

        print "Have you tried rebooting?\n";
        return(O);

        Works every time (or at leasts keep users off the phone, which is the point, really).

    • by argiedot (1035754)
      Vista crashed on me once and the problem finder tool told me that the solution was to update Kaspersky. The problem with that? I haven't ever installed Kaspersky on this computer. If this tool is something like that then saying signal-to-noise is low is an understatement.
  • Im sure.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @04:57PM (#25348189)

    That MS would surely get in trouble for this, but MS could very well use a repository, along with MD5 hashes of recommended programs.

    They could provide what we Linux users have with Synaptic and dpkg. They could provide "MS Legit Software", "Driver Repository", "3rd party Software", and "GPL and derivatives". There's 6 branches of Windows to do right now (98, ME, 2k, XP, 03 server, Vista), and most of them are rather outdated.

    But really, can we really say how bad this tool is by it not catching somewhat out of date drivers? Where exactly can a bot get the filename for the specific driver you need? nVidia, ATI, and Intels websites are rather hard to find drivers IF you screen-scrape.

    • I thought Windows Update told you if you had out-of-date drivers. It's been a few years since I used Windows, but I remember Windows 2000 updating my video, network, and modem drivers over Windows Update.
      • I remember something similar, in that it messed my video card driver up, but fixed sound. Though, I'm talking more about a repository ala the Linux style.

        Though, I know how MS will pervert it: they will charge for listing and ranking and will require yet another bloated app on your desktop. It's just the MS way :(

        It's also what's holding computing back.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Tubal-Cain (1289912)

          I remember something similar, in that it messed my video card driver up.

          There have been very few times that MS Update has gotten the video card drivers right.

      • ONLY IF the vendors report to WindowsUpdate that there are new drivers, then due to the fact that Microsoft will only distribute signed drivers, they have to be tested, which means a delay of like a week or more. So yeah, it's possible to get them through WU, but both MS and the vendor have to work together. I've talked with some folks from MS and they're rather bureaucratic over there so it's not exactly like there's a team of five guys whose job it is to oversee something like this.

        If there was, I'ld be

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          That's simple. Do it the Debian Way.

          Stable, Testing, Unstable.

          Drivers in that order.

          Stable are the ones that have been tested and vetted and work 99.99999% of the time (6sigma).
          Testing drivers are the ones that work rather well, but have occasional problems. Not quite a Work in Progress, but not bug free.
          Unstable. Yummy. Kernel Panic warnings and such abound. Ye civilized people not belong here!

          Debian has it right, at least in the driver department. Stuff they say works just works.

          • Oh I agree, that's why I thought I posted here about being a deb-rat. I didn't? Ah well, nothing lost I suppose.

            But yes, I agree, drivers_testing and drivers_signed works for me. Drivers_unstable I prefer to go and get myself on Windows, as opposed to deb, because most people are familiar with the Windows Control Panel. Most people couldn't sit down today and enable Synaptic (purposely choosing GUI) and add extra repos to their list. But they would look at it in Windows and say "yummy, faster drivers"

      • by skaet (841938)

        There hasn't been a new nVidia driver for the 8x series in months and I had simply stopped checking. I recently had Windows Update recommend an update for nVidia drivers and I was pleasantly surprised since it had never worked in the past.

        Perhaps Microsoft are finally getting it together for repositories and such. Who knows, we'll see...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Z34107 (925136)

        I believe Windows Update will recommend more "compatible" drivers than the ones you currently have. That could mean for your specific product (Linksys Wireless G WUSB54G v4) versus generic chipset drivers (RALINK whatever), or it could mean "newer," or it could mean a number of other tricky things.

        But, only if the drivers are in its database. It will regularly push old nVidia drivers, for example, even if you have newer ones installed. It will push hard disk and RAID controller drivers, with disastrous r

        • by mpe (36238)
          In my limited experience on this planet, I've found it wise to avoid installing disk controller drivers of all stripes (no pun intended) and video driver updates from Windows Update. Ditto for most drivers - get newer versions directly from creative or realtek or intel or whoever. At Microsoft's best, the results are the same - more commonly, you get an old driver, or a blue-screen on boot.

          It's also possible for it to replace a functional driver with one which isn't. Apparently by such daftness as overwri
      • No, only a few drivers are there. NVidia and ATI drivers, for example, are not there. They have rather different licensing and could not be intermingled this way, especially NVidia.

    • by Fluffeh (1273756)
      The whole thing just sounds like a glorified Windows Update, not a stand along product.

      Ergo: Another great way to blast any last bit of performance out from under your brand new PC brought to you by Microsoft. PS. You may recognize me from such things as Vista and Windows XP.
    • by pjt33 (739471)

      That MS would surely get in trouble for this, but MS could very well use a repository, along with MD5 hashes of recommended programs.

      If they're going to do that, they could start by publishing hashes of important Windows system files.

      • Absolutely.

        However, one can already do that by using system standard disks, installing them on an "island", no in or out to any network, and then boot up Linux and MD5hash every file in /windows or wherever they put them and save it to a read-only-capable drive like a SD card or a usb thumbdrive with write-only switch.

        One only needs to profile machines and save the hashes. Verification could be done by a set of scripts that verify a standard base and throw log-catches to a logserver.

        I believe that the Coron

        • by pjt33 (739471)
          That's fine if you're starting from a known state. The time I wanted hashes was when a friend thought she had a virus, some log or other (details fuzzy because this was a while back) showed that ntkernel.dll had changed, but I didn't know whether the change was caused by Windows Update or a rootkit.
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Easy! NVIDIA/ATI could make bot-friendly web sites.

      Also, Microsoft could provide XviD/DivX codecs for WMP.

    • But really, can we really say how bad this tool is by it not catching somewhat out of date drivers? Where exactly can a bot get the filename for the specific driver you need? nVidia, ATI, and Intels websites are rather hard to find drivers IF you screen-scrape.

      This problem has already been solved. The Sparkle library provides easy standardized self-updating functionality to OS X apps. How does it check for updates? It simply accesses an appcast, an RSS 2.0 feed that has one item per update with an <enclo

    • by Tatsh (893946)

      That MS would surely get in trouble for this, but MS could very well use a repository, along with MD5 hashes of recommended programs.

      They could provide what we Linux users have with Synaptic and dpkg. They could provide "MS Legit Software", "Driver Repository", "3rd party Software", and "GPL and derivatives". There's 6 branches of Windows to do right now (98, ME, 2k, XP, 03 server, Vista), and most of them are rather outdated.

      I hate Windows but I'd love to see this in practise. The thing is, if Microsoft will not do it (no Windows Update is not the answer), then who will? Someone very generous in my opinion. Say hypothetically someone ports Synaptic or some kind of 'simple GUI-based' package manager for Windows for free software, and this can become an outlet for proprietary software as well. There is Steam, but that is games and only proprietary ones at that.

      Windows and OS X desperately need package managers. OS X already has f

    • Are you seriously telling us that MS could not develop a protocol to validate drivers?

      It would be as simple as asking a copy of a given driver in order for your product to obtain MS seal of approval, then MS would keep a database of all drivers and compare that against whatevere it is in your own computer.

      With companies like Intel, Nvidia, HP, Asus and other big manufacturers this should be an smooth, automatic process.

      • It's called Windows Update and the signed driver initiative. You might have noticed those two bits somewhere about?

  • by ajs (35943) <ajs AT ajs DOT com> on Sunday October 12, 2008 @05:00PM (#25348209) Homepage Journal

    You appear to be trying to install Firefox as your primary Web browser. I've deleted the downloaded installer and alerted the authorities. Is there anything else you'd like to do today?

    • No, no, no, no, no! It goes like this: "Windows has detected an attempt to make Firefox your primary Web browser in place of Internet Explorer. Cancel or Cancel?"
  • by Enleth (947766) <enleth@enleth.com> on Sunday October 12, 2008 @05:01PM (#25348217) Homepage

    If you have to use a whole bunch of programs that consume a whole chunk of the computer's processing power just so that the computer can function properly, then something is damn wrong with it, on the very basic level.

    I mean, wouldn't it be easier to fix the reasons of those common problems if they're so common, than it is to make some bizarre problem-solving applications?

    • a whole bunch of programs that consume a whole chunk of the computer's processing power just so that the computer can function properly

      I believe you just described an operating system.

      • by Enleth (947766)

        I hope you're aiming for a "+1 Funny", because I thought it's quite obvious that by "computer" I meant a shorthand for "the hardware with a basic operating system" and didn't mention it explicitly...

    • Wouldn't it be easier if the system as delivered by the manufacturer would automatically heal itself and just allow you to use the computer to "work"?

      So what you seem to be complaining about is that you are back to a perceived 1GHz level of performance, on a box with over 2.5 GHz of capacity, minimum. Meaning, it feels like you are moving backwards. However, most "computer users" since there are over 2 billion of them on the planet, don't want to learn how to heal their computers, they just want them to w

      • by vadim_t (324782)

        Wouldn't it be easier if the system as delivered by the manufacturer would automatically heal itself and just allow you to use the computer to "work"?

        Certainly not, "healing" implies something broke and now needs fixing. It'd be a lot easier if the system didn't break in the first place.

        "healing" sounds to me much like Win98 running scandisk after a bad shutdown: the FS can't deal with it, so it's got to be fixed.
        The right way is the way NTFS does it: it remains consistent without needing an external tool f

        • You're assuming that Windows will break on it's own, but I'm assuming that MS is trying to create a product that is robust and attempts to stand up to outside attacks.

          NTFS does not remain consistent without needing an external tool to fix it. Hello chkdsk.

          • by vadim_t (324782)

            You're assuming that Windows will break on it's own, but I'm assuming that MS is trying to create a product that is robust and attempts to stand up to outside attacks.

            Not assuming, it does. And if it didn't break, it wouldn't need a tool to fix it.

            Antiviruses and spyware removers are things that shouldn't have to exist. Things should never get to the point where they're needed in the first place. Take MS Office viruses for instance. Just whose bright idea it was to actually make the language support the fea

            • Ok, what are you smoking? Every MS O/S I've run since Win98SED (except ME) has not had a general problem with dislocating things on it's own. It's only when you start adding in 3rd party stuff that I've ever had problems with my box. And I'VE (note the subject, not other people, myself) never had to reformat my own box due to Windows corruption. If you're truly IT or sysadmin, then you shouldn't have had to ever reformat your own box either. QED, Windows doesn't break on it's own. If you have had tha

              • by vadim_t (324782)

                Ok, what are you smoking? Every MS O/S I've run since Win98SED (except ME) has not had a general problem with dislocating things on it's own.

                I guess, but what comes with the OS isn't terribly useful. Things start going downhill pretty fast once you start making the box actually do something.

                It's only when you start adding in 3rd party stuff that I've ever had problems with my box. And I'VE (note the subject, not other people, myself) never had to reformat my own box due to Windows corruption. If you're trul

                • Ok, pass the joint, or the bong, or whatever it is. You want to get rid of self-healing processing units? Ok, then my suggestion is to go find and android case quickly, and move all your permanent data files over. Get rid of that self-healing processing unit that you're using to read this and to type that snarky reply. Dude, the whole point of engineering is to build systems that are self-healing. If you think you can design a system that is impervious to damage, let me know, but most engineers try to

                  • by vadim_t (324782)

                    Ok, pass the joint, or the bong, or whatever it is. You want to get rid of self-healing processing units? Ok, then my suggestion is to go find and android case quickly, and move all your permanent data files over. Get rid of that self-healing processing unit that you're using to read this and to type that snarky reply.

                    Then I guess we don't use the same definition of "self-healing". There's nothing in my hardware that heals itself that I'm aware of. Hardware is at best redundant. The only exception to this m

                    • Okay, you don't use a firewall to block viruses, I thought I was saying that a firewall is like a locked door. It stops the weak attempts at entry. That's it. I agree that AV is an unnecessary evil, but so are door locks. If you can prove to me why we need door locks as a society, then I can prove to you why we need AV. My parents don't have to lock their doors in the town they live in, but it's a small town, and the neighbors all know how to fire a gun. So I'm not worried that somebody is going into

                    • by vadim_t (324782)

                      If you can prove to me why we need door locks as a society, then I can prove to you why we need AV.

                      AV != door lock. AV == defense inside the house which can only work after somebody got through your door or window. A door is a static defense. If it's any good, it does its job. An antivirus is an active, imperfect defense (like a dog). It may fail to recognize a new virus, or the signatures may not get updated.

                      The self-healing processing object I was talking about is YOUR BODY. It's a processing unit, and it

    • by Ilgaz (86384)

      They should sit with HP, Dell and even Apple (bootcamp) and say to them "Guys you are really sinking the ship. If Windows dies, you die too. Don't install that freaking startup program chaos to my OS"

      Do you remember XP came with empty desktop by default? That was the idea. They couldn't keep their promise and now promising again on Windows 7. It won't work unless they make some radical decisions.

      Even Apple installs that junk like code (Realtek HD Audio Mixer) to their Macbook bootcamp. They should tell Real

  • Error Reporting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Toreo asesino (951231) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @05:03PM (#25348229) Journal

    ...is good at advising to upgrade out of date drivers if they cause problems.

    I've had it diagnose a bunch of dodgy drivers with success before; I'm not quite sure what the angle on this tool is.

  • Just what i'd expect from microsoft.

    Take the most annoying, derided aspect out of every piece of software they've ever made, turn it into a stand-alone app, and make it apply to your whole computer.

    "it looks like a virus has infected me, your helpful system-fix program! would you like some help with that?--Or WoUlD YoU LiKe To Go To HeLl"

  • by syousef (465911) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @05:12PM (#25348313) Journal

    ...so it's time to add another. ;-)

    The REAL problem is that these tools have a different agenda to the end user. The end user just wants the damn thing to work. The vendor wants to sell them more software, do a security theatre dance around the PC. The geek coding isn't able to step back and work out what the user will and won't understand (and none of these tools have really good help explaining the technical gibberish in plain English). So what these tools invariably do is just throw up technically correct but obscure messages that the user just clicks to get rid of. Half the time if the user does bother to take the suggested action, the outcome is bad because the software was never smart enough to make the decision, and the end user just never understood the problem in the first place.

  • Pretty useful (Score:2, Interesting)

    by magamiako1 (1026318)
    Okay, I'm going to make a post here that falls into two parts.

    Firstly, this is a pretty useful utility for those that aren't very computer savvy. Everyone knows that most "slowness" can be resolved by simply maintaining the computer every now and again. Clearing temp files, defragmenting, cleaning off viruses, trojans, and other malware. So for the people that are prone to these types of problems, this is a pretty useful utility.

    Their alternative is either "the friend" whom has now grown up and gotten a rea
    • Re:Pretty useful (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @06:13PM (#25348701)

      ---Firstly, this is a pretty useful utility for those that aren't very computer savvy. Everyone knows that most "slowness" can be resolved by simply maintaining the computer every now and again. Clearing temp files, defragmenting, cleaning off viruses, trojans, and other malware. So for the people that are prone to these types of problems, this is a pretty useful utility.

      More likely, its due to install-ism (where they install anything and everything), fragmenting, and garbage-ware either in the form of shovel from the OEM or malware. The install-ism is rather bad when they just click yes/ok/stfu button to get the windows to go away. This is a major state of mind issue and can be hard to break. Losing their files would be a rather wide wake-up from this. Fragmentation should be handled by the OS and should NOT be a standard user activity. What? The OS isnt smart enough to connect disjoined files? Linux does. OSX does. FreeBSD does. Why not Windows?

      And we get to the garbageware. Even the box guys are charging for a "complementary garbage removal" on the crap they put on there. They evidently make a lot from this garbage. But the worst offenders are the trojans, spyware, adware and so on. Even multiple tools cant remove it properly. When the spyware gets in as local admin, they then set themselves firmly in the system and can usually only be completely removed via a reinstall. Wrong.

      MS could have done this the Right Way. Chroot is your friend. Programs that whine about XYZ not being where it is, then throwing up a UAC prompt is not the right way to do things. Instead, they could have made a default CHROOT environment for each program, with access to the users home directory. The "Programs and Files" directory could have been symlinked back to the home directory. Programs that are aware (announce as such to OS) could be given a proper environment in which to interact. This is the right way, but MS botches it up again and again.

      ---Their alternative is either "the friend" whom has now grown up and gotten a real IT job and doesn't want to be bothered by them, or Best Buy's GeekSquad who will try and tell you your ram is broken and your hard drive died, all the while copying your personal album off of the PC to their internal servers.

      The Box Stores lie. Just like the little guys. Big surprise.

      ---Now, the more "OMG anti M$" side of the argument is that Microsoft needs to do something to help improve its image with consumers. Right now, consumers just don't like Windows. In fact, quite the opposite is true. There is a growing movement of disdain for Windows. While every day normal Joe might not care either way, the people he or she asks for computer purchasing advice does care.

      I like the Linux way of things, yet I still wonder about one very critical issue: executables.

      My example: I wanted to install Rockbox 3.0 on my 5th gen iPod. Ok. I can do it the manual way, or I can use the automated installer. I elect to use the installer and go download it. Once I get it, I need to go into properties (or commandline) and go set the executable bit. If I dont do this, the OS refuses to run it. Now, is his a bad program? Nope. But it solves the "run_anything_from_email" and related issues in MS based systems.

      Setting an exec bit lets ME know that I have the intention to run it.

      Now, this relates to all those nasties on the net. Now, IE will open up and run whatever. Lookout Express (now, windows mail) will execute anything in the preview pane (or it use to, havent used it in years). In Windows, it runs from damn near everywhere. As a point of absurdity, I can open up Winamp, look at my MP3's, find an executable in program files, and right-click and run it. That's broken. Open file should mean open file, not run everything.

      ---Microsoft, after years of keeping hands off on a lot of issues with Windows due to the whole "antitrust" thing, is finally taking charge and trying to improve their image with their software. A "We Care(tm)" approach to a person's computers. Tha

      • Re:Pretty useful (Score:4, Insightful)

        by techno-vampire (666512) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @07:02PM (#25349059) Homepage
        Fragmentation should be handled by the OS and should NOT be a standard user activity. What? The OS isnt smart enough to connect disjoined files? Linux does. OSX does. FreeBSD does. Why not Windows?

        Not only does Linux know how to deal with fragmented files, it knows how to avoid letting it happen in the first place. Instead of cramming each file into the first open spot on the disk, even it it's just one cluster, Linux tries to find a place on the disk where there's room for the file to grow. That way, until your disk is getting very full, or you've got a lot of files that you're constantly updating and re-writing to different places (e.g., large databases) you'll never have to worry about defragging. Over the years, Microsoft has been very good at taking technology developed elsewhere and making it part of their OS, and they'd be doing their customers a good turn if they re-wrote the algorithm used to decide where on the disk the file goes.

  • by Stan Vassilev (939229) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @05:43PM (#25348527)

    I'm getting a bit frustrated waiting for the industry to realize they need to make those applications a little more interactive.

    For example, from the article, the tool suggested a number of IE fixes when the primary browser used on the system is Firefox. The tool detecting the default browser is easy, but IE may still be used while not being default.

    The solution: just damn ask the user, does he use IE despite it's not the default browser. Just make the process more like a dialog, let the user add some input to the process.

    When a collection of solutions is formed, don't just spit them to the user, but ask him what problems he has, what apps he uses, and dynamically trim/modify the proposed solutions according to that. It's still faster than waiting for an actual person to show up and fix the problems, and that person would still ask the user a lot of those questions.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by perlchild (582235)

      With IE being embedded into several applications(Intuit's come to mind) a bunch of users to whom this tool is aimed at might think _wrongly_ that they don't use IE. Better fix it... Kinda hard for the tool to guess if a perf problem is due to a third party app calling a part of the os in embedded mode is causing a slowness of the app...

  • It's free ... it's by Microsoft ... and anything which puts purveyors of useless "fix your PC" utilities out of business is OK by me.

    • the article only mentions that it's free for eligible testers; it doesn't indicate whether it will be a free add-on to Windows when it's actually released.

      frankly, i don't think there will ever be a software replacement for repair technicians. if such software could be designed then we'd already have self-repairing OSes.

      but perhaps a centralized database for device drivers could be created online, where hardware manufacturers could post their drivers so that users can automatically fetch driver updates from

  • The new tool promises to 'continuously monitor your PC for problems and give you the solutions to fix them, in real time.' After testing on several Vista machines with a variety of problems, Maximum PC has written a full report on the Microsoft PC Advisor.

    PC Advisor: "I noticed you are running Vista. That is probably the reason for your variety of problems. Would you like to downgrade to Windows XP, for this limited time offer of $99.99? Cancel or Allow?

    Windows Firewall: "PC Advisor Repair Tool is trying to reach the Internet. Block or Unblock?"

    Windows Defender: "I noticed you are running a program called "PC Advisor", Windows Defender does not recognize this program. Would you like to remove or disable "PC Advisor"?

    • by mcrbids (148650)

      Don't forget:

      UAC: The program pcadv.exe is trying to make changes to your computer. [Accept][Deny]

      UAC: The program pcadv.exe is trying to make changes to your registry. This is rarely acceptable. [Accept][Deny]

      Norton Antivirus: A program is trying to make changes to your registry. If you do not recognize "pcadv.exe", you should click "No". [Yes][No][Details]

      (click [Details])

      A program is trying to write changes to a Registry Key. If you don't recognize "pcadv.exe" you should click "No".

      (click No)

      Popup: PC Ad

  • preview (Score:3, Funny)

    by spazdor (902907) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @06:30PM (#25348835)

    Clippy:

    Hey, it looks like you're trying to install a FOSS operating system.

    I can help you to:

    • reinstall Vista from scratch instead
    • click helplessly around until whatever your problem was goes away
    • PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST STOP IT OK? DELETE THAT ISO. I CAN CHANGE.
  • by Marcaen (568601) <Cache22&gmail,com> on Sunday October 12, 2008 @07:20PM (#25349187) Homepage

    The thing that seems to not be addressed is that this tool is specifically targeted for a small number of people. The software itself is not "beta", however the issues and problems that it searches for and repairs should be considered beta. The whole point of releasing this to a small, specifically invited group of people is to fine tune and make the detection and repair database much more useful before it is ready for the general population. The following is taken directly from the invitation email:

    "As part of this study, you would download and install the Microsoft PC Advisor application and provide feedback on the impact on your Windows Vista PC through 3 brief surveys over the next 6 months"

    For a product that is at least 6 months away from being released to the general public, this article is no more than a misrepresentation of the goals of the software at this point in time. And as the "invited" users use the tool, they will have the chance to provide feedback to help improve the capabilities of the utility.

    That being said, this tool will never be a useful tool for power users that already know how to tweak their systems and update software, and the final release database may not be much better in the end anyway. But if that is the case, write an article at that point Will Smith, not when a product has barely begun building a database and is on an invitation only basis. I like to bash Micro$oft as much as anyone else, but this article is FUD. I'm guessing that Will had this passed along to him from a third party with some missing information, at least I hope, it is the worst piece of "journalism" I have seen from the man.

  • Something else to natter at me. Does Microsoft realize that, when we were talking about new popups that Windows could defecate onto the screen, we were just kidding?

  • Seriously devote that time and those resources to making the target system more hardened more resilient instead of giving me another monitor that sucks up CPU and RAM to give me some flashy lights and blinky things to impress me that you're serious about my welfare. The best system is a dumb box that just works 100% every time all the time, forever.

  • Look to mirror MS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ilgaz (86384) on Monday October 13, 2008 @01:16AM (#25351825) Homepage

    They choose to spy user more (possibly asking for money later) instead of fixing their OS.

    Even Apple with dedicated and trusting userbase can't dare to offer such thing. Apple has almost hidden from user "Send system information to Apple" in "System Profiler" (in Utilities). What it does is produce a XML file, bzip2 it and send that plain compressed file to Apple without and cryptic stuff. A complete opt-in thing promises nothing! That is the way to go. You can't promise user to "enhance".

    If MS suspects third party stuff (devices) for Vista problems, they should travel to the building providing these:
    http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/winlogo/default.mspx [microsoft.com]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WHQL_Testing [wikipedia.org]

    I have seen 20% CPU using WHQL certified network drivers, programs certified by MS developed by people who doesn't really know how MS Installer arch works etc.

    While spending my time writing this, MS already knows a lot about the users computer. They just make it official now. Also they have stolen concept of http://www.pcpitstop.com/ [pcpitstop.com] (lame looking but clean). PC Pitstop _does_ suggest really meaningful things in return.

    • It's not like PC Pitstop was there first. HealthyPC.com tried the same thing over 10 years ago.

  • Please GPL your OS, then people will fashion fully functional tools.

    You would still be able to charge tons in support (who will people prefer to support Windows?...)

    • "who will people prefer to support Windows?"

      Maybe from somebody that has showed no proof of incompetence by distributing broken software and correcting tools that didn't correct...

      But forget it, they'll buy from whoever has an ad on that fancy business magazine that was recomending people to invest on houses just two years ago.

  • So here we have another piece of software that will eat up my CPU cycles and run innoculously in the background (ha ha). Doesn't Vista run bloody slow enough?
  • Those who have been in the "consumer" software space for a while might remember CyberMedia First Aid, a total piece of shit program for Windows 95 that actually launched Telnet when prompting the user to grab a file via FTP. First Aid 98 improved on things a bit, but not much.

    There was also Symantec's short-lived PC Handyman that did the same thing as the Microsoft PC Advisor but also included instructional videos, an NLP interface sitting on top of an inference case base, and limited functionality tie-ins

  • PC Repair Advisory Tool

  • I wonder if it also uninstalls itself then?

    I've found to have your pc run most quickly and efficiently simply delete or disable all the Microsoft craplets like this.

  • A sticker applied to the front that says "wwww.linux.org". Problem solved.

The bogosity meter just pegged.

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