People looking for a little tech support from Microsoft now have yet another option.
The folks in Redmond have just kicked off an online version of the physical support Answer Desk that's been up and running at the various Microsoft Store outlets.
The online Answer Desk bills itself as a premium Microsoft service designed to "give you the most convenient, friendly, and easy way to get the most out of your PC." Like the Microsoft Store Answer Desk, the Web-based version is staffed by support folks trained to troubleshoot and resolve problems with your Microsoft software.
So, how does it work?
You can chat for free with a support rep to explain your problem or question. The site tries to organize the wide array of possible issues into various categories to help you get started.
Premium Software Support covers such areas as Microsoft Office, Internet and connectivity, printing and scanning, and PC startup. Advanced PC Tune-Up helps you clean up and optimize your PC. Virus Removal and Protection does just what it says. And One-Hour Personal Training offers you a private tutorial on Windows, Office, and other products.
If your problem doesn't fall into one of those categories, you can still just click on the "Talk to an Answer Tech now" button to chat with the next available rep or choose a specific person to contact. The tech rep will offer a complimentary consultation to hopefully steer you in the right direction.
Though the initial chat is free, the service you ultimately receive is not. Premium Software Support will run you $99 for an hour of tech time. The Advanced PC Tune-Up and Virus Removal each cost $99 for two hours. And the One-Hour Personal Training will cost you $49.
If do you opt for one of those services, the support rep will launch a remote session on your PC to perform the necessary steps.
The Answer Desk is clearly geared toward novice PC users, especially since Microsoft says that its reps are "dedicated to solving your PC issues without resorting to technology jargon."
Earlier blog site reports had claimed that an image on the site contained copy referring to Answer Desk as "premium support for people that don't know any better." A spokesperson for Microsoft told CNET that those reports were inaccurate, clarifying that the image was on the Answer Desk site but the copy was not. The Web site Neowin.net revealed itself as the source of the phony image and has since removed the image from its own site, added the rep.
Updated 12:45 p.m. PT with response from Microsoft.