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Problem Steps Recorder – nifty tool presented in Windows 7 Beta

January 11, 2009

Long Zheng has unearthed a really nifty tool when it comes to problem solving – the Problem Steps Recorder;

“If you’ve ever offered technical support to other computer users, you might find yourself losing a slice of your sanity over their inability to describe the problem clearly. And most times it’s not the fault of the user, it’s just difficult to describe what you see with words. A feature new to Windows 7, called “Problem Steps Recorder” looks to be the missing tool for documenting where it all goes wrong.

What the tool is a simple but advanced variation of a screen capture software. Think of it as an automated “Print Screen” plus a little monkey in the background documenting all the mouse clicks, key strokes and gathers some technical reading material, who then ties up everything in a neat box and saves the results. The neat little box you get is a zipped MHTML report page which can be sent off directly to the help desk.

The report page is where this tool really shines. It actually is an XML page documenting each step of the user’s actions complete with a screenshot with the item highlighted. You can view the report as is, or as a slideshow, or even dig into the raw XML to expose greater detail like the X&Y coordinates of the mouse…”

Long presents both a video of the tool in process as well an example of one of the reports made with the tool. Of course, I had to try this thing for myself so I typed in psr.exe in the Windows 7 start menu on just minimized a series of windows before stopping the recording. Underneath are some screenshots of the report;

image image image image image

I not only see this as valuable for troubleshooting bugs for Microsoft, but also for those of us that are always used as the local help desk. Precise problem descriptions are now readily available. Nifty! I commend Long on finding this one!

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