Computer manufacturer Evesham announced the launch of its targeted messaging support service yesterday in a bid to help new and existing customers iron out technical glitches.

The new service, called BigFix, stores 'fixlets', a series of problem solvers, on a secure server at Evesham. Fixlets are then downloaded to users' PCs whenever they connect to the internet.

"Every time users update their machine, messages will automatically be downloaded," said Evesham's Carolyn Worth.

Once downloaded, a fixlet resides on the system, stored invisibly until they are needed.

Fixlets cover a broad range of potential problem areas, and once the user accepts a fixlet's advice it will automatically carry out the system repairs.

From a safety point of view, Evesham has incorporated a digital certificate system to ensure third parties cannot gain unauthorised access.

"It recognises the sender and receiver and will only allow entry once it is given a corresponding signature," said Worth.

The BigFix software can be used on any Evesham machine running Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000 or NT with Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher.

The fix-it support system will be preinstalled on all consumer PCs and the service will be available free of charge.

"Extra technical support is always a good move. One of the most common complaints for PC buyers is that they simply are not getting good enough support from their vendor," said a spokesperson at the Consumers Association. "If this works successfully, it probably won't be long before other manufacturers adopt similar schemes."