September 19th, 2007 at 09:03am
Among the annoyances that I keep finding in Windows Vista is this little gem. The Windows Help application (WinHlp32.exe) is not included in Windows Vista. This is the program responsible for opening 32 bit .hlp files, used in such applications as Microsoft Office 2000, which I prefer over the current incarnation of Microsoft Office for a number of reasons. Trying to get help from such a program brings up the rather unhelpful window shown on the right, the most infuriating part of which is, that applies for the help tooltips (pictured below) where you click the “?” button and then click on an object to get information about that object.
Officially 32 bit .hlp files are obsolete and have been replaced by other help formats, and so it makes sense that they wouldn’t be supported any more…until you find out that the even more obsolete 16 bit .hlp files are supported as Microsoft decided to ship WinHelp.exe with Vista. The logic behind this decision is impossible to comprehend, however it does appear to be a rather strange and cynical attempt to force Vista users to upgrade to newer versions of various Microsoft products by making the old ones “troublesome” under Vista.
Thankfully WinHlp32.exe can be downloaded and installed from http://support.microsoft.com/kb/917607 which will restore the full functionality of Windows Help (third picture), but I do have to ask Microsoft whether or not it was really worth breaking the “help” function of many existing applications for the sake of saving about a megabyte in a 10GB operating system? No? Well, then they must be trying to make people upgrade.
What a nuisance!