Holiday Support Center Brightens the Season for Consumers

REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 16, 2002 — It’s the gift-giving season. After impatiently watching your sister open up a new sweater and your uncle getting yet another set of Allen wrenches, it’s your turn. You know what the gift is by the shape of the box, but you’re still excited as you tear the wrapping off the new Age of Mythology PC game. After all, what could be better than hanging out with a Cyclops and a couple of Minotaurs over the holidays?

Microsoft’s Holiday Support Center is designed to find quick answers about consumer products. Click image for high-res verson.

In fact, the new 3-D strategy game, which transports players to a time when heroes did battle with monsters of legend and gods intervened in the affairs of mortals, allows for multiplayer gaming. Now you and your buddy can battle the Greek god Zeus together. The only problem is neither of you knows how to do this. Though it may be easy enough to figure out, you have a civilization that needs saving, and don’t want to spend time fussing with your computer. What can you do?

Not to worry. The solution is waiting on the Web at the online Microsoft Holiday Support Center. Found at , this holiday online support hub provides consumers with free help during the holiday season if they have questions or problems related to Microsoft products. Microsoft designed the site as a one-stop portal that consolidates the top issues likely to surface during the gift-giving season and provides the resources needed to address them.

To help consumers conveniently find the information they need, the site’s home page is organized by product topics, such as games, hardware, home-productivity applications, Internet Explorer and Windows XP. Links from the home page provide intuitive access to a host of resources, including product highlights, how-to articles, step-by-step instructions and frequently asked questions (FAQs) on specific products and technologies. Consumers also have the option to search the extensive Microsoft Knowledge Base, a database containing more than 250,000 articles.

“Customers shouldn’t have to spend time over the holidays sorting out performance issues, product activations and passwords,” says Lori Moore, corporate vice president of Product Support Services at Microsoft. “That’s our job, and it’s a job we can do most quickly and efficiently for them through the Holiday Support Center. Online support is just one of the ways we’re working to constantly improve the support experience for customers and increase their access to help, answers and relevant information.”

Feedback We Have Heard on High

Microsoft has found that customers are very satisfied with online support when it can solve their problems. The self-help Web support option accessible through Microsoft consumer products averages nearly 1.3 million page views, helping more than 5,300 customers successfully resolve issues they have with software each month.

Across all technologies, at least 60 million customers each year successfully solve issues they’ve run into using online support.

Feedback from consumers who use Microsoft online support praise the comprehensive nature of the information offered and report that the explanations are simple, clear and easy to understand. Consumers also value the ease of navigation.

Online Support: A Gift to Make the Season Bright

PC games are far from the only techno-baubles one might receive this year. Consider a scenario in which the family photo buff receives his first digital camera, and with it, a copy of the popular Microsoft Picture It! image-editing software. After getting a passel of shots capturing the family opening presents, he uses Picture It! software to remove red-eye from the photos, then goes on to create a digital photo album.

This is so easy, he thinks to himself, that I’ll ship a dozen of my best shots to Aunt Emily and Uncle Henry, who are snowbound and couldn’t make it to the holiday gathering. But when he goes to use the “Send Via E-mail” command in Microsoft Picture It!, up pops the following message: “Unable to send via e-mail. Windows Messaging is not installed. Please install this from your Windows Setup.”

With a few clicks of the mouse on the Microsoft Holiday Support Center, he finds step-by-step instructions online to install Windows Messaging, tailored to the version of Windows he uses. And by the time Aunt Emily and Uncle Henry sit down to dinner that evening, they have a terrific set of pictures to enjoy.

Deck the Halls … and Windows

Consider another scenario in which a college student gets a new laptop complete with a Windows XP operating system for a holiday gift as reward for the good grades she received in calculus, chemistry and third-year Japanese.

She can’t wait to play with her new toy, so she wants to personalize the laptop to her own tastes and preferences right away. But where to start? She heads to the Microsoft Holiday Support Center, clicks on the link for Windows XP FAQs right on the home page, and seconds later, a Microsoft Knowledge Base article provides her with the answers she needed. The article offers a simple “how-to” rundown on configuring desktop themes in Windows XP, a feature that lets consumers give the computer a distinctive look and feel. Before long, she’s changed various elements to create a unique appearance, including background, screen saver, icons, fonts and colors.

She also discovers two companion FAQs on the same Holiday Support Center page that offer more ways to customize her Windows XP-based laptop. First, she selects a different animated screen character in Search Companion, then she learns how to enable or disable new Windows XP interface components such as fading menus, shadows and screen font smoothing. She notices that most entries in the support database also include troubleshooting tips, just in case she ever needs them. But for now, the laptop’s set up just the way she likes it, and she can get back to the holiday fun.

That’s just the way Microsoft likes it, too.

“We want consumers to know that we’re there for them during the holidays,” says Moore. “The Holiday Support Center is our way of taking care of customers at a busy time in their lives, if and when they need us.”

Microsoft’s Holiday Support Center Web site will remain live through January 2003. Online Product Support is available year-round at where consumers can search for information using the Knowledge Base or choose to go to a product support center to get the information they need. Phone support is also available. Check your product information or the support website for appropriate phone numbers.

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