As long as there are computers, there are likely to be mothers and fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and assorted thrice-removed ne'er-do-wells asking for PC help.
Israeli startup Soluto has a new way for all the tech-savvy helpers of the world to disseminate their knowledge, the company announced today. The new Soluto app is currently in closed beta, although the company has offered CNET readers early access.
The company is keeping its name and the stylized look, but it has abandoned its prior focus, a Windows utility that would analyze and help prevent program crashes leveraging a cloud-based database and the magical powers of crowd-sourcing data. The new Soluto will allow that special someone that Soluto Chief Product Officer Roee Adler calls the "home CTO" to diagnose a problem and push solutions.
These include installing new applications, solving non-responsive programs and crashes, pushing silent upgrades, and removing bloatware from boot-up. There won't be any remote file access for security reasons, says Soluto, but you will also be able to track basic hardware maintenance such as fan speed, CPU temperature, and battery wear in laptops. Programs are pushed out to users through Ninite, a batch installer and updater.
To test out the new closed beta, you can register at Soluto's Web site with the access code "sethsentme". You can create a personal Soluto account, or login via Facebook. Currently, the program is limited to managing five computers. Once you're using Soluto, you can invite friends directly without having to worry about the access code. Computers that have the agent installed will have to be rebooted before the program will work.
"There are probably tens of millions of people who have problems with the basics, like setting up iTunes, or downloading an app," said Adler. The new Soluto, he said, will allow anybody to offer secure, limited remote access to installing programs, but Soluto is also looking beyond the home to small business with only a couple dozen computers to manage. "Repair is a $30 billion industry in the IT market, and it's craving innovation. But nobody helps the IT managers who are managing 50 PCs," he said. As with many products, Soluto plans to remain free for home users, and sell licenses to businesses. Future plans include support for Macs, iOS, and Android devices.
The program exists in the cloud and opens a tab in your default browser, and relies on the same PC Genome backend that powered the previous version. It requires only a small downloadable agent so that the Web app can talk to the computer. Soluto's built on HTML4, said Adler, so that it will work in any modern browser.
Users of the previous version of Soluto soon will be migrated to the new version, the company said in an FAQ.
Not unlike the previous Soluto, this new take looks great on paper but leaves many questions about user adoption. There are many well-known remote-control programs that provide deeper hooks into the computer, such as GoToMyPC and TeamViewer, although Soluto's Web-based interface and PC Genome guts do set it apart. The model sounds solid, but as the world goes mobile, much of Soluto's success will depend on its ability to quickly support more than just Windows.
"You know what's hardest about computers? It's not Windows XP or crashes," Adler said with a smile. "It's the fear that people have of the technology. We want to reduce the barrier for asking for help, and reduce the barrier for giving help."