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WinHelp deprecated for Windows Vista

Some good news on the Windows Vista / WinHelp front. Microsoft have now (June 2006) decided that Windows Vista users can download the WinHelp32 engine. Originally MS indicated WinHelp would not work on Windows Vista at all.

2007-03-09 - WinHelp32 for Vista now available

WinHelp32 Download for Vista (32bit and 64bit versions) is now available on the Microsoft Download Center.

With this release, Vista customers can now install the WinHelp application on their system and securely view .HLP files on Windows Vista. This release applies to Windows Vista x86 and x64 only.

The WinHelp for Vista KB article will be updated with release documentation soon.

"... Users who want to view .hlp files must download the program from the Microsoft Download Center, and then install it on their computers. The download for Windows Help is still in development and will not be available for the release of Windows Vista Beta 2..."

Earlier (2006-03-15) Microsoft announced another intention with no download possibility. During discussions with MVPs, Microsoft Help team announced today that WinHelp would be deprecated (phased out).

Ted Dworkin (Director of Windows Support Experience) told MVPs - "WinHelp does not meet the code standards established for Vista. These standards include security, reliability, and performance. WinHelp is architected in such a way that we would have to rewrite it from the ground up to meet the Vista code standards. And that approach doesn't make sense given that we have two other Help systems in Vista."

"...WinHelp and HTML Help (.chm) files support: Windows Vista introduces a new help model called Windows Help. All applications need to update their help documentation to the new model for Windows Vista versions. .."

Note that even though WinHelp and HTML Help are mentioned in the same sentense (above) it is only WinHelp which is being deprecated. HTML Help is safe for now and hey its all we have anyway. MS are removing all there .HLP files from Vista Install or migrating them to CHM or AP Help.

Sad to say goodbye to faithful old WinHelp but I can imagine 16 year old C code is probably looking pretty bad and non-maintainable. Just not up to the higher standards required by Vista.

What does this mean? What should we do?

When will deprecation begin?

So WinHelp will run under Vista?

So don't invest any more time and money in WinHelp. Its days a numbered. HTML Help is all we have now.

AP Help 1.0 will be released with Vista late 2006 but will only be available to MS and OEMs. AP Help 2.0 is slated to come out about a year later (fingers crossed) and will be for everyone to use. AP Help V2 is slated to install on Windows XP and later.


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