New Office 2007 Supportability Feature: Unique Alert/Error ID

Are you tired of trying to get the exact error message from the customer?  Are you tired of searching for content on generic error messages that don’t have unique key words?  Do you ever wonder why you need to document your cases with the error message detail?  If the answer is yes to any of these questions I’ve got some news for you.


Over 25% of the support volume for Office 2003 is directly related to error messages.  The Supportability PMs from CSS are partnering with the Trustworthy Computing (TWC) and Assistance & Worldwide Services (AWS) groups within the Office product group to significantly reduce that number moving forward.


With that said, Office 2007 includes a supportability feature to help Service Delivery support customers where there is an error message involved.  If you receive an error in an Office 2007 product you may hold down “CTRL + SHIFT + I” and a unique alertID will be exposed in the lower right-hand corner of the dialog box.  (Setup errors not included)  For example, after hitting “CTRL + SHIFT + I” the alertID “300034” becomes visible in the dialog box.


Key Benefits:


·         The related support content will have this unique number as metadata to enable fast and accurate searches by customers and Support Engineers. 

·         The numerical ID is language neutral so all relevant content can be easily found regardless of the language in which it is written.

·         Many alerts/errors are very similar in verbiage such as “Out of memory”, “Not enough memory” and “Insufficient memory”.  Quite often the customer will give the SE the general idea of what the error is saying and not the exact text string.  This makes finding the right prescriptive content difficult.  The unique ID addresses this problem.

·         If the ID is documented in the case notes the categorization of errors will be easier and more accurate for the supportability teams.  Also, new content can be created and/or tagged with the ID based on good case documentation.  If you use this “feature” please document the ID in the case notes!  The top hitting errors can then be dynamically addressed in the current version via update services by adding “Infotext” to the dialog.  Please read the FAQ at the bottom of this message for more information about Infotext.





Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):


Q.     How Support Engineers can find KB articles with Alert IDs:

A.     Use the keyword kbOfficeAlertID and the number the customer gives you. If there is a KB article with that number available, it will display in VisualKB. This is the most succinct way to find the content if it is available.


Q.     What should an Engineer do if they cannot find content?

A.     Create a Solution Object if you are using Clarify.  Create a Solution Idea if you are using CAP/KAM.  In either case please include the following: The exact error message, the AlertID number, and how you resolved the error message issue. This allows us to convert as many of the AlertIDs into KB content so the next customer or support engineer can find the information they need.


Q.     How will customers find the KB articles:

A.           There are four main ways:

1)           Type the number in basic Search. This will bring up any articles that contain that number.

2)           Under Advanced Search, Customer selects search for Error Message and types the number. This will only bring up Error message articles with that number in it.

3)           Type AlertID and the number in basic Search. Once customers get used to the terminology, they can type “AlertID” and the number in basic search to see if any results are available.

4)           Type kbOfficeAlertID and the number. This only works if customers are familiar with our keywords or have found the KB article that will be available describing how AlertIDs work in Office 2007.


Q.     Why are the keystrokes so obscure?  Why not make it easier to get to the alert ID such as hitting the spacebar?

A.     Two reasons:  First many simple keystrokes are already used by popular programs and we don’t want to conflict with them.  Second, since this feature was designed primarily for Service Delivery we didn’t want to confuse users with the ID if they accidentally hit the simple keystroke.


Q.     How will we get the word out to our customers that this feature exists?

A.     We plan on posting related information on the Microsoft Support Home Page, the Office Support Page and the Consumer Solution Center for Office.  A KB article will be created describing this supportability feature.  We will also add this information to the IVR script.


Q.     When will the support content have all of their respective IDs?

A.     The goal is to have all of the 2007 articles updated by consumer street date (1/30/07).


Q.     What is Infotext?

A.     Infotext is help text that augments an error message. For example, if you click the “Show Help” button in the dialog box, you receive the verbose text shown in a expanded dialog.


There are a few cool things about Infotext:

·         It’s rich HTML text and can contain bullets, bold, italics and hyperlinks.

·         It can be updated at any point after we ship.

·         It can be associated with the particular cause of a generic error message if that cause can be determined using a ship assert.

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