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Desktop Support Fundamentals

When the Desktop Support customer is a small company, a private user, or even a friend or relative, professional support folk and part time techos often provide an adhoc, "time and materials" solution for PC problems and requests.  This is especially true for one-off customers and end users with low budgets (or seeking a freebie). Apart from recording basic customer contact and PC information, no other quality processes are applied.

In many cases there is little incentive or apparent value in maintaining a more structured, systematic approach for support management. However, there is a strong argument, and many benefits for small PC support businesses and stand-alone technicians to think of the bigger picture - think ITIL.

In the past, setting up and maintaining a comprehensive PC Support management system would be hard to justify as cost effective where regular customers were not the norm. The local PC technician spent more time on fixing hardware problems and OS issues were generally less complex (Anyone remember the 386 and  Windows 95?)

These days, a number of significant shifts in technology have influenced our judgement for adopting a smarter approach to supporting PCs -

  1. We've seen a dramatic increase in PC / Desktop types, processing speeds, diskspace and RAM capacity.
  2. We now have a greater variety of Operating Systems running on the various platforms, add to this many older OS versions such as Windows XP still in use.
  3. The burgeoning number and variety of complex applications, tools and interactive programs (driven by a more powerful global web and wireless network).
  4. The ready availability of clever support tools, devices and techniques to simplfy  and speed the diagnosis and recovery process of all manner of problems and service requests.
  5. The relative ease of setting up support management systems and knowledge databases, in many cases using inexpensive, opensource or even free applications.

The Web, Google, Wikipedia, copious Technical Review/ Support sites, free Tutorials, user guides and tech forums provide a growing, endless Knowledge Base for technicians to solve just about any problem outside their immediate capability. The demand for local, hands-on desktop support technicians is growing, but so is the supply of remote and semi-automatic solutions and enterprising providers. The tentacles of unsolicited adware, spam, browser and smartphone popups increasingly annoy us, trying to sell us tools to manage and protect our PCs - "Protect from what?"  (Removing the well-known antivirus and internet security tools from our new netbooks is a common request, when activation is imminent or demanded).

Any developing PC Technician would give his or her career prospects and job opportunities a boost by learning, understanding and adopting best practice support methodologies for all customer types and requirements. Obtaining ITIL certification and then thoroughly applying the components of IT Service Management will increase a technician's reputation, respect, and credibility as a Desktop Support Professional.

So even when you are providing basic support and problem solutions for a one-off, single PC customer (or friend), look at the bigger picture - and think ITIL.


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Hi Kendar  not sure whether you wish to update references but Windows XP went out of support a week or so ago...(April 2014).  Just thought you may wish to reference it somewhere?  I've also read that due to XP's loss of support - there is also a increase in new PC sales... good for some :) .

Thats's a fair and timely comment, MarkD given the official "end of XP support" on April, 8th. We can expect to see a huge flurry of discussions on the impacts of this milestone, and also a strengthening of online XP support groups.  I particularly liked the articles at  PC World on Continued XP Patching (at a cost), and at TechNibble - What Technicians Need to Know

The percentage of XP desktops in use seems to be somewhere between 24% through to 36%, with some research also backing that (See the web analytics at NETMARKETSHARE ).  Bear in mind that these users will be predominantly private and small businesses, although you' shouldn't be tsurprised to find some bigger corporations with applications still running on XP. I'm currently working with one business to upgrade their FoxPro 2.6 database systems running on XP Pro.

Their will many users who will want to retain their "trustworthy" XP desktop, but will be more interested in managing their vulnerabilities. This would be a smaller issue for users isolated from the internet (or foreign flash drive insertions). I noted that some Antivirus Makers were not too pleased about the drop in free support from Microsoft (See this post from Redmond Magazine ).

We will take this opportunity to expand our Desktop Support resources to provide worthwhile information and links to self-help groups and migration tips. I've already asked AdrianL to help compile this.  (Oh, thanks for also volunteering, MarkD).


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