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Windows Vista - Help Engine Support

Microsoft is committed to providing Help and Support technology in the Windows Platform and will continue to investigate new solutions for software developers. The following information clarifies the support in Windows Vista for four Microsoft Help technologies: Windows Help, HTML Help 1.x, the Help and Support Center, and the Assistance Platform client.

Windows Help (WinHlp32.exe) - .HLP

Windows Help WinHlp32.exe is a help program that has been included with Microsoft Windows versions starting with the Microsoft Windows 3.1 operating system. The Windows Help program (WinHlp32.exe) is required to display 32-bit help content files that have the ".HLP" file name extension."

Windows Help is being deprecated for Windows Vista. To view 32-bit Help files with the .HLP file name extension in Windows Vista, you will need to download and install WinHlp32.exe from the Microsoft Download Center. The WinHelp32 Download for Vista (32bit and 64bit versions) is now available.

Microsoft removed the 32-bit WinHelp engine as one step toward retiring this old code base and simplifying the range of Help systems Windows customers encounter. They left in the 16-bit WinHelp engine because of requirements of the 16-bit system that ships in Vista (NTVDM: NT Virtual DOS Machine).

Microsoft strongly recommends that software developers discontinue using the Windows Help application in Vista. Software developers who ship programs that rely on .HLP files are encouraged to transition their Help experience to an alternative Help file format, such as CHM, HTML, or XML. You will also need to change your calls from the WinHelp() API to the new content source. Several third-party tools are available to assist authors in converting content from one format to the other. A freeware solution and some notes are made available at this homepage later.

HTML Help 1.x (HH.exe) - .CHM

Microsoft HTML Help 1.x (HH.exe) is a Help system included in Windows releases starting with Windows 98. HTML Help is required to display compiled Help files with the .CHM file name extension.

HTML Help will ship in Windows Vista. However, only critical updates to the engine will be made. No new features or feature improvements will be added to the HTML Help engine for Windows Vista or future Windows releases.

For more information about the functionality of HTML Help and guidance on authoring files for HTML Help, see the Help 1.4 SDK siet:

Help and Support Center (HelpCtr.exe) - HSC

The Help and Support Center (HelpCtr.exe) was a Help application designed for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. The Help and Support Center displayed compiled Help files with the .CHM file name extension.

The Help and Support Center is not included in Windows Vista and its features are not supported. Compiled Help files with the .CHM file name extension will only be displayed in the HTML Help application as described above.

Assistance Platform Client (HelpPane.exe) - .H1S

The Assistance Platform client (HelpPane.exe) is a new Help engine designed for Windows Vista. It is not compatible with any previous versions of Windows. The Assistance Platform client is required to display Help files with the .H1S file name extension.

In Windows Vista, the Assistance Platform client can be customized by OEMs, system builders, and enterprise customers under license agreement, but cannot be used by third-party programs. For more information on customizing the Assistance Platform client, see the Windows SDK.


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