I have to admit the first place I go to for answers to problems with Microsoft products is Google. Years ago, I learned that I was more likely to get my answer starting outside of the Microsoft Support web pages. In many cases, I’d even find knowledge base articles faster when searching the whole Internet vs. starting directly in the knowledge base portal itself. That fact alone has kept me from starting out at “support.microsoft.com” for a long time. Old habits die hard.
But I’ve been giving Microsoft Support a second look lately and it’s improved over the years.
One of the areas you should check out when supporting home or office users is the Solution Centers which will tailor content to the OS or application you select. Depending on your selection, you might find options to access Microsoft Fix it, which can lead you to some automatic diagnostics and solutions. There are automated solutions for XP, Vista, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player and others. Windows 7 has a lot of the automated diagnostic features built in and the Fix it web page provides alternate instructions for accessing those tools.
Another area to check out is the Microsoft Answers forum, which is geared toward more consumer level Q&A on desktop operating systems, Office products, Windows Live, Security Essentials.
Finally, if you seek more support information for enterprise applications and Windows Server, TechNet is the place to be. Check out Keith Comb’s recent post about improvements in TechNet Search. Don’t forget about the TechNet Forums and Community areas too – lots of great blogs and other resources are there, like the Fix it Blog that posts regular additions to the Fix it solutions, especially for more of the server products.