Did you know as an MSDN subscriber of any level you have access to a personal online valet of sorts? It’s called the MSDN Online Chat which is totally misleading in my opinion. I prefer to call it the “Online Concierge” as that is more in-line with what the service does.
Okay so what DOES this service do? Well let’s start by being clear about what they do NOT do: they are not, repeat, are NOT technical support. Period. We have technical support avenues but this is not one of them. What this service does is look up information for you so you can continue to work on other things. The best way to show you is by example, so here we go…
Be My Research Assistant
I recently did a post about the new VS2012 Update 1 and wanted some additional links. I was also busy working on some midyear performance review items so decided to let the concierge handle finding the info. Below are the steps you would follow to do the same thing I did.
To get started, you go to the main MSDN site (http://msdn.microsoft.com) and click on the link to access your benefits:
At the bottom of the list of benefits you will see the MSDN Online Chat:
I want to reemphasize that THIS IS NOT TECHNICAL SUPPORT. These folks are paid to be your research assistants as you can see by the description and/or answer MSDN benefits questions. In this case I got “Harrison” and asked him about documentation on VS2012 Update 1:
Below is the rest of the transcript, that I had emailed to me from the chat window, from the conversation verbatim with extra space, some commentary, and emphasis added:
info: Please wait for an agent to respond. You are currently '1' in the queue.
info: Privacy Statement
You are now chatting with 'Harrison'.
Harrison: Thank you Zain for contacting the MSDN Online Concierge. How may I assist you today?
Zain Naboulsi: hello harrison, can you tell me where to find information on Visual Studio 2012 Update 1?
Harrison: Thank you for your inquiry. Let me provide you the download link, Zain. Just one moment please.
[ZN: I wanted to simulate having to run off to lunch or go to a meeting or something here to show how awesome they are. They will do the research and email you the result later on.]
Zain Naboulsi: I need to jump off can you email it to me?
Harrison: Sure, may I know if you are referring to the Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012 with Update 1?
Zain Naboulsi: Nope just want the list of bug fixes and new features in Visual Studio 2012 Update 1
[ZN: Highlighted below is the standard disclaimer you will usually get when doing one of these sessions. They are great helpers and research assistants but they are NOT TECHNICAL SUPPORT. Not sure if I mentioned that 100 times already or not but wanted to be clear]
Harrison: Thanks for your clarification. I will see if I can help to find some documentation that will point you to the right direction. However please understand that we are not technical professionals, and if we are unable to locate anything specific for your concern, I can also provide you some other support options. May I know if that's OK for you?
Zain Naboulsi: sounds good :)
Harrison: Thank you for your understanding. May I know your preferred email address please?
Zain Naboulsi: firstname.lastname@example.org
Harrison: Thank you. I will send it to you later after my researching, Zain. May I know if there is anything else I can help you with at this time?
Zain Naboulsi: that should do it, thanks for your help :)
Harrison: My pleasure. If you have any further concern, please feel free to come back again. We are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Harrison: Take care and bye for now.
Harrison: Have a nice day.
info: Your chat transcript will be sent to email@example.com at the end of your chat.
And there you have it! I’ll bet twenty bajillion dollars that you didn’t know about this benefit already. Most people don’t so don’t feel bad. These folks are available 24/7 so take advantage of your new research assistants to help you find things out!