One of the useful things about Windows 8 is that you can connect with people in lots of useful ways. Linking all your contacts so you’ve got a range of options when you need to get hold of a friend is one thing; being able to help them solve a problem with their Windows 8 PC just by being connected through email and the web takes it to another level.

You might have heard of remote assistance before. It’s a way of one person logging into another’s computer or laptop (with their permission and for a specific session only), helping diagnose a problem and attempting to fix it for them. Technical support staff for computer companies and internet service providers sometimes use remote assistance in this way. Complete Guide to Windows 8.

Soluto uses remote desktop - the technology that allows someone to securely log on to your PC - in a slightly different way. It offers the sort of troubleshooting and diagnosis we’ve just described, but it also lets you tinker with remote Windows 8 computers to improve their everyday performance.

This means you can you keep a benign watchful eye over the state of a Windows 8 PC you may well be called upon to fix when things go wrong, so you’ll have an idea of what the problem might be. And if it’s something as easily remedied as the antivirus software not being kept up to date, leaving the computer vulnerable to infection, you can prevent the PC encountering such issues in the first place.

Windows 8 remote assistance: Use Soluto to troubleshoot PC problems

Step 1. To get started with Soluto, install the app from the Windows 8 Marketplace. It’s free. You’ll need to enter your email address – the same one you use for other things is fine. There’s no need to create a specific Soluto email address unless you wish to.

Windows 8 remote assistance step 1

Step 2. Click in the space underneath the person’s graphic, type in a name and click ‘Add this person’. Enter their email address and add your photo or phone number if you want to reassure the person you’re inviting to Soluto that it’s a legitimate offer of help.

Windows 8 remote assistance step 2

Step 3. The recipient of the invitation now needs to follow the link in their email to download Soluto to their Windows PC or laptop. Once set up on the remote computer, Soluto informs the user that you are helping them with their computer. You’ll get an email notification, too.

Windows 8 remote assistance step 3

Step 4. On your Windows 8 PC or tablet, you’ll now see that the avatar for the connected person is a darker blue, while other invitees are shown as a paler blue. Click on the connected person’s graphic to access their PC. Soluto indicates that you’re connected via Internet Explorer.

Windows 8 remote assistance step 4

Step 5. You’ll see an overview of the PC itself, its age and operating system. Click on the Hardware option at the top of the screen to view component details. Scroll to the right of the screen to view details of any additional hard drives. A green tick next to a drive indicates that it’s healthy and does not need defragmenting.

Windows 8 remote assistance step 5

Step 6. The Apps section lists installed programs. Any that need updating are clearly marked. Click on those you think should be updated. Many will only update when the PC is preparing to shut down or when it restarts. To signal that it knows to initiate the update, the Soluto message now changes to ‘update in progress’.

Windows 8 remote assistance step 6

Step 7. Soluto suggests apps that may be useful to the user. Scroll to the right of the Apps screen and you’ll see details of browser adds-ons, free security software and utilities that could improve their computing experience. Click to install items you think will be worth having.

Windows 8 remote assistance step 7

Step 8. Soluto allows you to offer support and remotely access up to five PCs for free. If you have more than one home computer, it can be useful to include these. To add more people, click on the lower portion of your Windows 8 screen and press Add to bring up the invitation list again.

Windows 8 remote assistance step 8