Microsoft has launched a new tech support service called “Answer Desk.” Fifteen minutes of help is available free round the clock, seven days a week.

Joy went to to find out why her direct-wired connection to the Internet wasn’t working. The wireless connection worked fine, but wired is faster so she wanted to switch. The Answer Desk technician connected to her computer over the Internet, poked around in network settings and said that her cable appeared to be unplugged. Only problem: It wasn’t. But this led her to think of putting in a different Ethernet cable and sure enough, that worked. The old one was busted; this happens more often than you would think.

If you’ve got a problem that can be fixed quickly, it’s free. If you like the tech support guy or gal who helped you, the site prompts you to bookmark them for an easy return.   Going beyond basic services will cost you something. For instance, a two-hour session to get your computer speeded up and virus-fee costs $99. Before you pay that, try Googling your problem or clicking the Windows start button and then clicking “Help and Support.” For Apple users, a similar service, called “One to One,” is $99 a year.

We’re willing to try Answer Desk again when we have a quick question, but for serious issues we’ve yet to find a better tech support guy than Kenny S, whom we found at His rates are reasonable and he works fast. He’s now at

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