Symantec's Guru lets geeks reach out and help

Symantec is developing a new computer service to help tech gurus connect with friends and family to fix PCs.

Symantec has developed a way for geeks to reach out to friends and family over the Internet and fix their computers.

At this week's Demo conference in Palm Desert, Calif, Symantec will show off the new troubleshooting service, called Project Guru. With the service, computer savvy tech gurus can invite people to join their Guru network, where they can remotely troubleshoot and repair PCs.

Symantec already sells software, called PC Anywhere, that lets one PC remotely control another system, but Guru will be easier to use and set up and will give technical people a quick way to help their friends fix problems. "The expectation is we'll develop a very large suite of tools over time to let people deal with a large group of problems," said Brian Hernacki, an architect with Symantec's office of the CTO. "This isn't PC Anywhere."

Unlike PC Anywhere, Guru uses a secure browser connection to connect to the PC that needs help, so users don't have to adjust firewall settings.

Symantec isn't the first company to try to tap into the need for online support tools. Another company, called CrossLoop makes a similar product. But while CrossLoop can also be used to hook up with technical experts who will fix your computer for a fee, Symantec is initially focusing on connecting friends and family, rather than creating a marketplace for tech support services, Hernacki said.

Symantec is developing a handful of tools for the service right now: a remote desktop, security and malware scans, performance tests & error logs. The service is being tested in a small pilot program and Symantec plans to make a public beta of the service available later this year. The company hasn't worked out whether or not Guru will be free.

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