Some time ago, I wrote about an early beta (pre-release) version of Microsoft’s free Mr. Fixit utility. With the early beta test now closed, I am happy to report that Mr. Fixit is alive and well and offering many times more free fixes than it did when I first reviewed it. Mr. Fixit is now the character or avatar for the Microsoft Fix it Center, which offers automated fixes for Microsoft products online, typically by downloading and installing a specific problem centered client to the PC. According to Microsoft, “Fix it Center finds and fixes many common PC and device problems automatically. It also helps prevent new problems by proactively checking for known issues and installing updates. Fix it Center helps to consolidate the many steps of diagnosing and repairing a problem into an automated tool that does the work for you.”
Mr. Fixit and the Fix it Center, available online at support.microsoft.com/fixit, has an interesting motto that simply describes its functions that can repair many common Windows problems: Easy, Relevant, and Be In Control. In terms of being easy, Microsoft says, “Microsoft Fix it Center makes getting support easier than ever, with tools that help solve the issues you have now and prevent new ones.” Mr. Fixit is easy to install and run, fully automated, and provides some degree of preventive care. In terms of being relevant, “Microsoft Fix it Center personalizes solutions for your device, showing you only what pertains to your hardware and software.” The phrase “Be in Control” is appropriate because Mr. Fixit provides the user with a simple method to stay in control of the maintenance of the computer by allowing the user to customize settings (choose the level of automation), manage multiple devices, and enable simple record keeping of all updates and repairs made on each device.
The online component of the Fix it Center (support.microsoft.com/fixit) allows the user to select a problem area labeled “1 Select a problem area (optional),” displaying a group of eight large icons labeled Top Solutions, Windows, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Entertainment (covers the Xbox, Zune and Windows Phone), Office (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Info path, Live Meeting, and project), and Other (SharePoint, Exchange, SQL Server, Streets and Trips, and several other Microsoft products). Clicking on one of the eight icons opens a context sensitive window “2 - What are you trying to do?” In this window is listed many of the common problems faced by windows users; clicking on one of the items opens a second selection window on its right, offering a more detailed list of issues or devices that are relevant to the original selection. Below that pair of windows are several possible fixes, listed as “3 View or run solutions for (your chosen problem).” In that window is a selection of “Run Now” buttons, each linked to a context-sensitive solution. Clicking on the appropriate Run Now button executes a file that contains the likely fixes for the selected problem, repairs any damaged, missing or corrupted files and registry entries, displays results and possible additional fixes, and then quietly exits.
Since I have been having periodic issues with the Windows Media Player on this Windows 7-64 computer, I tried the Fix it Center fix for Media Player problems. It downloaded a small client (339k), loaded a “Troubleshooter” that explained what it would try to do and the steps that it will take in order to rectify the problem, and it gave me the option of allowing it to identify and repair the problems automatically (recommended) or allowing me to choose the fixes. I chose the recommended option and the troubleshooter ran, detecting the problems. After the first attempt to repair my Media Player, I was given the choice to reset my Media Player and libraries, or do nothing; I chose to reset it. In my particular case, the Fix it Center was able to successfully reset my Windows media player and its scripting activities, but was unable to repair the Media Player Library. I was then asked to load the problem program, Windows Media Player, and asked if Mr. Fixit had successfully resolved my problem; it did not, but offered some additional possible solutions.One of the most common irritants faced by many PC users is that their computer is running sluggishly, and appears to be much slower than when new. While there are many possible reasons for this degraded performance, the Fix it Center offers some possible automated fixes for this dilemma. From the Fix it Center main Web page (support.microsoft.com/fixit), click on the Windows button, and then in window No. 2, select “Fix performance, errors, or crashes.” In the right window, select “Slow performance, startup, shut down, or memory.” In window No. 3, select the Run Now button adjacent to “Fix Windows system performance problems on slow Windows computers; Automatically troubleshoot and repair Windows performance problems. Improve, optimize and speed up Windows computers and make slow running PCs faster.” That will initiate the downloading of another small 339k client that offers performance improvement diagnostics and solutions. Accept the license terms, and the performance “Fix it” client utility will be installed. Either allow it to detect and fix problems automatically (recommended by default), or let it detect performance problems and then you can select from a menu of possible fixes. On my desktop computer the only performance issue that it detected, which I chose to intentionally not repair, was that I had several programs loaded at boot.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of possible Windows fixes freely available from the Fix it Center, and it has become my first choice when looking for a fix for Windows problems. The Fix it Center detects the operating system on the computer (Windows 7, Vista, or XP), and displays appropriate fixes explicitly for that operating system and whatever Microsoft product is connected or installed on that computer.
Whenever a PC user encounters what might be a Microsoft related problem, the Fix it Center would be an appropriate first choice to check for a possible solution. The Fix it Center utilities might not just identify the problem (as well as other related problems unknown to the user), but might possibly fix the problems as well.
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