Had a computer problem that’s resulted in you being left on hold to a customer services call centre for the best part of an hour, totting up an enormous phone bill in the process? Wish your tech savvy mate was always on hand to offer advice as to how best to manage your PC? Then you should give an app called Soluto a try, which is looking to revolutionise the way we handle our PC trouble-shooting woes.
Compatible with Windows 7, Vista, XP and the forthcoming Windows 8 OS, Soluto is a program that allows users to help one another through their computer-based troubles.
Free for up to five users (with premium plans available for enterprise users), one member of a group of Soluto users is elected as the tech whizz kid, and becomes the go-to source of help for the other users. Using the Soluto interface, the users can view problems that the others in the group are experiencing, and use the Soluto toolset to remotely fix problems and install useful programs on each other’s PCs.
It’s a slick UI that makes tasks that would be daunting for novices (such as de-fragging a PC, or installing anti-virus software) a breeze, but really comes into its own when being used by a remote power user. They can use Soluto to manage multiple PCs at once, checking out a user’s system configuration to tailor fixes to each machine. As Soluto uses the cloud to communicate between users, fixes can be queued up to be triggered even when the machine in question is switched off, kicking in when the system is again booted back up. For the most part, Soluto is a discrete application too; a user will never be able to trigger a fix for a problem that would interrupt another user’s current session.
It’s worth noting that you can’t directly access another users’ documents, photos or email through Soluto, due to obvious privacy concerns. The Soluto interface instead acts as a front-end, a portal through which to apply updates and run optimisation tools without compromising your pals’ sensitive data.
Perhaps the program’s most impressive feature however is how Soluto intelligently uses your solutions to help other users around the globe. While your identity is never shared beyond your circle of selected friends or colleagues, the Soluto team are constantly analysing data sent by the app in order to help notify users around the world when another Soluto users has come up with a solution to their problems. Soluto aim to make crash and usage data freely and publicly available too, which should be invaluable to the next wave of software developers.
Soluto is also available as a Windows 8 Metro app, and was one of the first available as part of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview build. We saw it running on a Windows 8 tablet, and was pleased to say it was just as intuitive as its desktop counterpart, with responsive, finger-friendly touch controls and clean, animated menu transitions. It can be difficult to make an IT trouble-shooting app look appealing, but the mix of pastel shades and Wii-like avatars dotted around Soluto make it very easy on the eye.
How much of a success Soluto proves to be will be largely down to how simple or complex the developers eventually allow the service to become for users of differing computer literacy levels. For instance, while we liked the fact that it had at least one application available to be remotely downloaded onto a fellow user’s computer to fit most scenarios, the list of apps wasn’t exactly extensive. We imagine some power users will be frustrated that they can’t, for example, put their precise media player of choice on another user’s machine.
Nonetheless, it’s an intelligent and intuitive solution for dealing with the remote IT problems of your peers. We’d imagine premium-rate gadget and IT helplines will be looking at Soluto with some trepidation.
For more on Soluto, click here.