Soluto, based in Tel Aviv, aims to minimize computer slowdowns with new software. From left are its officers Roee Adler, Ishay Green and Tomer Dvir
FORGET about desperate housewives. To witness true frustration, watch desperate PC users trying to type, send e-mail or work on a spreadsheet, only to be delayed by those pesky hourglass icons for seconds or even minutes until their computers finally respond.
Now Soluto, a company based in Tel Aviv, aims to help these PC owners with an unusual program intended to minimize irritating slowdowns. The software runs in the background on PCs, collecting data on delays in program responses and sending the information to company servers for analysis, said Tomer Dvir, a co-founder and the chief executive.
As its first service, the company is offering a free program intended to solve a classic computer problem: a slow boot or start-up time. (The program is at the company’s Web site, www.soluto.com.)
Roee Adler, the chief product officer, said the program analyzed the boot-up process, recording how long it took and suggesting ways to trim the time. “Often you can cut your boot in half, or even more,” he said.
I tried the Soluto program, and by following its recommendations, cut my boot time to 1.44 minutes from 2.40 minutes. I removed some applications from the boot sequence, letting them run after the boot was over. I “paused” other applications that I don’t use on a daily basis — for instance, an application that automatically updates Google products. Instead, I’ll wait until the company lets me know when there is an update. (Soluto divides the possible changes in the boot into “no brainers,” “potentially removable apps” and “required, cannot be removed.”)
The company is also working on solutions to other slowdowns, like interruptions while working on Excel or typing in Word when another application suddenly commands Windows resources, causing a timeout. Finding the source of delays is often tricky, Mr. Adler said, because Windows runs on many different computer models; each has its own complement of downloads and devices, all jockeying for attention.
To find the source of each slowdown, Soluto uses a statistical approach, Mr. Dvir said. “Over millions of machines and millions of users, the problems start to repeat themselves,” he said. “There may be 10,000 people with the identical problem, and one of them will find a solution.”
Those millions of users are still in the future, as are their solutions to Windows problems. To acquire those users, Soluto plans to offer free versions of all its products, Mr. Adler said. As it runs on users’ machines, the program will analyze problems and publish solutions. The program won’t reach in and fix the problem directly; the user will have to do that. But if the initial program for boot optimization is any guide, Soluto will be offering suggestions for fixes, letting users know what others have chosen. A premium version that fixes problems automatically will be available for a charge, he said.
Soluto’s approach to PC frustration is novel and highly promising, said Robert Scoble, a video blogger and a former Microsoft employee. “This is innovation at a deep level; they are bringing in the crowd to augment solutions to Windows problems,” Mr. Scoble said.
If Soluto realizes its plans, he said, large companies will be likely to pay for its services. “If each employee saves a few minutes on each machine,” he said, “the hours saved will be worth a fee.”
Soluto also plans to publish lists of machines and software configurations that cause PC problems. That, too, he said, would be worth paying for.
The company has raised $7.8 million in two rounds of financing, Mr. Adler said. Large investors include Bessemer Venture Partners and Giza Venture Capital.
Once the initial, boot-optimization program is in full swing — it is now in a beta or test phase — the company will move on to the next slowdown problem on the agenda — for example, delays in using spreadsheets — Mr. Dvir said.
Soluto, he said, does not require users to register, or provide an e-mail address or any demographic information, he said. “All the information is gathered anonymously,” he said.
SO far, the company is doing an intriguing job, said Ed Bott, author of many books about Windows. “The need they’ve identified among users really resonates with me,” he said. “They have a long-range plan to address many issues of frustration. It’s an original and promising approach.”
The program now has a limited user base, he said. “But the more people who use it, the more valuable it will become,” he said, both to them and to the company.
Many other services, including, for example, PC Pitstop, are already on the market to optimize boot-ups and other processes. The PC Pitstop scan is free, said Dave Methvin, the chief technology officer, “and will tell you what it thinks needs to be done.”
“If you decide you want us to do the work,” and fix problems automatically, he said, “you purchase the product,” either for optimization (Optimize, $29.99) or a complete tune-up (PC Matic, $49.99).
Typically, delays on PCs occur because applications like vendor updates are battling for resources. “When you have 10 of those running in the background,” said Mr. Adler at Soluto, “they add up.”