Ninety per cent of computer users worldwide start with Microsoft Windows installed on their computers. Most users today are actively involved with Microsoft products-using, developing or testing them.
Though Microsoft's software products are easily the most popular, most users also face issues with them on a regular basis. There are system crashes, application issues and of course bugs during coding. However, what most users are not aware of is the dedicated group of Microsoft Web sites that provide support for all its products.
Most users are also not aware that Microsoft is generous enough to offer resources to the public in general, irrespective of whether your software is pirated or not. They provide immense resources that can get you out of the stickiest of situations. This article will walk you through the Microsoft.com, and tell you about its support Web sites for both users and developers alike.
Most of us have seen the "Blue Screen of Death" at least once during the time that we have been using our computers, irrespective of the flavour of Windows used. Microsoft.com is the mainstay for all your support related queries that you have about your Operating System, (even the now archaic Windows 98).
The Web site looks a tad cluttered, but don't feel intimidated, all you need is a little patience. Look for a heading called "Solution Centers" and click on it. Here you will find 'Solution Centers' for all Microsoft products, including Windows Media Player and the Xbox.
Let's consider a situation where you get an "Illegal Operation" error in Windows 98. To find a solution for this, you can either use Google, or you can visit the Microsoft Web site and paste these two keywords in the box called Search KB (Knowledge Base).
Use the Microsoft support site to find solution
Remember, whenever you get an error it is important to find the keywords present in that error. For instance, a "Fatal Exception Error" has the keywords "Fatal" and "Error" and using them to search the Knowledge Base will provide you with more valid and suitable results. Once you press [Enter] after typing in the keywords, you will find that you are presented with a long list of results.
Though you need to sift through the results, the solutions are most often bang on target.
We just used Windows 98 as an example, but you can search for solutions for everything that includes Microsoft Operating Systems, Office Products and Development tools.
Search through the knowledge Base for relevant result
Let's take a look at some of the other Solution Centers. A large number of Netizens seem to have trouble with Internet Explorer 6 the, let's check out Microsoft's IE6 Solution Center.
Right on the first page, you will notice that everything is arranged under separate headings. There are 'How-To' articles, downloads and updates for Internet Explorer, and of course, troubleshooting instructions. In the left hand pane, you will notice that there are different topics that are related to using Internet Explorer, while the right-hand pane contains information about other Microsoft related products and sites.
In short, this page is your one-stop resource shop to nurse your ailing IE back to good health, or to learn more about it. This Web page layout is the general pattern for most Solution Centers.
The Microsoft Knowledge Base has documentation solutions for your use
If you use Microsoft's products, you should visit the Microsoft Support Web site regularly for information and solutions to problems. Solution Centers are vast resources that will help you utilise Microsoft's software to its full potential, and only when you know your way around a software like a professional, will you truly 'enhance' your ability.
Everything you needed to know about Microsoft Internet Explorer 6
Microsoft Windows Microsoft Office Microsoft Downloads Microsoft Developer Network
To date, Microsoft Windows remains the Operating System of choice for the masses. Though most of us know our way around Windows, first time PC users are still overwhelmed when trying to use the software. However, 'Help' is just a button click away-"Press [F1] and all your questions will be answered", seems to be the Microsoft way.
Every level of users, from the beginners to the advanced will see various expensive books that are targeted at enhancing your Microsoft Windows skill-set, but none of them can top the exhilaration and sense of achievement of self-learning. Just visit http://www.microsoft.com/ windows and choose the version of Windows that you want to know more about. The most popular Operating System in use today is Windows XP, and if you want to know more about it visit http://www.microsoft. com/learning/centers/windowsxp.asp
Once the Web page loads, you will be surprised by the amount of information that you have access to. You have free access to the latest expert information in the Windows XP Expert Zone, plus technical information using the Windows XP Technical Resources. If you want more information regarding training, or want to hone your career prospects using Microsoft products as your weapon of choice, look at the Microsoft Exam Guides. This will let you know what exams you need to take for a particular career choice.
Some cool tutorials on Microsoft Windows XP
Informative FAQ's are also available for beginners and professionals alike to help you get a good perspective of what you need to do to get ahead in the rat race.
In the Windows XP Expert Zone, you can get information, insight and advice regarding everything about Windows. Top Windows specialists get together on the forums to talk about issues that users have with it. No, it will not bore you to death, provided you have a genuine desire to know Windows inside out.
The Microsoft (MS) Office Suite is the most used world-wide, with Word, Excel and PowerPoint being the most used Office applications. Though we have provided you with an entire Fast Track book on the subject, free with the July 2005 issue of Digit, you will find even more information at http://office. microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx-the beauty of using the Web as a tool for providing knowledge resources, is that there are no limitations.
At the site mentioned above, you will get access to tons of information that will keep you engaged for hours, and help you understand how to get more out of your Microsoft Office applications.
There is a lot that you can do on this Web site: for instance, you can use the "Demos" feature of the Web site to learn Office skills in a jiffy. There are so many downloads for your Office suite, such as Clip Arts (our favourite), media, templates and more. In fact, there's so much available that you're likely to run out of hard disk space if you try to download them all!
The Microsoft Office home page
You can also suggest new Office online content by sending feedback to the brains at Microsoft, asking them to create more exciting content for you. Another popular resource here are the freely available update packages for all versions of MS Office. If you are using an older version of MS Office, you can also choose to download a trial version of the latest release and check out the new features.
A section called Work Essentials deals with making MS Office work for professionals the way they want it. There are other sections specifically dedicated to provide information to varied groups of professionals, from elementary school teachers to real estate agents and travel and tourism professionals. There is information for everyone, and all you need to do is assimilate it all to become an MS Office whiz.
Another very useful section is the Office Assistance section. This section deals with the utility part of Office, such as tips and tricks and guides that will help you work better with MS Office without any headaches. There is something for everyone in this section. For instance, you can get the low-down on how to use watermarks, or add music to your presentations, and even stuff like creating flowcharts in PowerPoint. If there's something you want to know about Office, you will find it here!
Tips for using Microsoft office better
Another interesting section is the "Office Marketplace" where software from third-party software developers are showcased. These software cater to the wider range of needs by adding features or tools not already included in the MS Office suite. These are generally available as shareware or freeware downloads.
Whether you want to update or patch your Microsoft operating system and office suite, or if you are a developer looking to get some Microsoft tools, you will find them all at Microsoft's dedicated Downloads site. Everything made by Microsoft, from DirectX to Windows Media Player is available for download at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/
Help for Microsoft Office user
Get some cool third-party tools for Microsoft Office
You can choose from various categories including games, Office and home applications, updates, drivers, and so on. We searched for, and found, downloads for the latest version of DirectX, SQL Server 2005 books, the Service Packs for Windows 2000, and much more.
So far we have only looked at user resources, but there are also Microsoft resources for coders. Programmers that use Microsoft's Development Tools can also benefit from Microsoft's online resources.
The Microsoft Development Network (MSDN) is a programmers Mecca, and every coder needs to pay http://msdn.microsoft.com a visit if he or she plans on a career as one.
This site is not for the average user, and, perhaps, should contain a sign that says, "Warning: geeky language ahead". The page layout is cluttered, as usual, as programmers have no time or need for beautiful and well designed Web pages.
For the uninitiated, MSDN is the developer network that programmers that use Microsoft Development tools refer to for their programming needs. MSDN is available as a subscription, wherein you get exclusive information that adds value to the products that you are already using for development. As an MSDN member, you are also privy to previews, betas and first-looks at the latest versions of software.
The Microsoft Download Center
MSDN now ships on DVDs, and contains content that is exclusive to it's members. Though the MSDN Web site is exhaustive, there is a lot of useful information available only on the DVD.
MSDN: A programmer's heaven
In no way do we imply that the Web site contains less critical information. For instance, if you are new to programming, you can head to the "Library" section to find content that will help you get started with programming, using illustrated examples.
You can visit the "Developer Community" to get more information from other developers working with the same tools as you. You can also watch Web casts and check for jobs at Microsoft in the "Training, Career and Events" section. In addition to all of this, there is a Download section that offers developer tools and resources such as code samples, SDK downloads and tools that integrate into other Microsoft products.
There is a special section dedicated to MSDN subscribers where they can download the latest tools that are not available publicly-for instance, the Windows Vista (formerly Longhorn) Beta 1 is only available as a download to MSDN subscribers. Developers and programmers should head off there and get a copy right now!
Whether you are a first time PC user or a seasoned programmer, there is a Microsoft Web site that can help you do more with your PC. If any of the sites mentioned in this article have helped you in any way, do write in and share your experience with us. .
Microsoft Office Microsoft Downloads Microsoft Developer Network
Microsoft Downloads Microsoft Developer Network