Windows Help program (WinHlp32.exe) is no longer included with Windows

Okay, this is completely lame:

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. WinHlp32.exe is required to display 32-bit help content files that have the “.hlp” file name extension.

However, the Windows Help program has not had a major update for many releases and no longer meets Microsoft standards. Therefore, starting with the Microsoft Windows Vista and the Microsoft Windows Server Code Name “Longhorn” operating system releases, the Windows Help program will not ship as a component of Windows. Also, third-party programs that include .hlp files are prohibited from redistributing the Windows Help program together with their products. Users who want to view 32-bit .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. It will be available in time for the consumer release of Windows Vista scheduled for early 2007.

Yeah, well… I guess I’ll have to wait four more days before I can view a .HLP file that will likely never get updated. I’m thinking this is going to turn into a tech support nightmare for everyone. The decision will ultimately be reversed – and WinHlp32.exe will be pushed out through Windows Update within a year, if it doesn’t first get included within Vista SP1.

22 thoughts on “Windows Help program (WinHlp32.exe) is no longer included with Windows”

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  4. Hi Chris I see you have the translation link on your blog here and I think its fantastic .. did you take if from the altavista one ? or did you create it yourself …. please do tell I thought it was fantastic..
    Thanks in advance
    Sandy

  5. I just found this out when I installed Vista Business and then installed some old help programs that I wanted to use. The MLS Style Guide, Crafty Guide Research, and the Chicago Style Guide. These are useful guides and I hope I will be able to use them again.

    Does anyone know of any other guides of this type that I can use? Thanks

  6. You should be glad they’re getting rid of the old help system. It’s ugly. If MS had made more moves like this with Vista, we wouldn’t see crap like the Add Font dialog still around…

  7. Actually it is going to be a huge pain in the %&!#. Where I work we have several applications that were developed 8 years ago and are still supported. They all use .HLP files. So now we have to migrate them all to HTMLHelp. Doesn’t help at all that they are compiled in MFC under Visual Studio 6 and that version of MFC doesn’t have direct support for HTMLHelp. Very sucky.

  8. Well, the WinHlp32.exe file exists in the Windows installation directory. From my Vista Business install (fresh install on Thursday of last week), it is compiled on 11/02/2006. Meanwhile, there is also a WinHelp.exe file, too.

  9. Nicholas is wrong. Pfft!!! The very reason Microsoft is doing this is because developers are still using winhlp32.exe and they want to force them to stop! But the result of this stupid decision is that none of your 32 bit .hlp files are usable. Do a search and you probably have a thousand of them on your system! Vista was released last month and there STILL is no download for this from Microsoft.

  10. To be fair, Microsoft claims security concerns with winhlp32.exe for wanting to get rid of it. The replacement HTML Help .chm files have been around since Windows 98. But still no word on when the winhlp32 download will be available. WinHelp.exe is for 16 bit .hlp files and the winhlp32.exe included in Windows Vista is only there to show you the error message.

  11. Hmm just hit this one for my self, stupid, follow the link, hmm Not included as its not been developed for a long time, but the 16 bit version is included !! Then it says that the updated download will be available – hmm When !! What a stupid situation, just include it on the DVD in an extras folder if it needs some thought before install – Vista does seem rushed and unfinished in places for sure – even after all this time !

  12. I have a customer who needed to look at the help file for one of our company’s programs. He is on a new laptop from Toshiba and he went to the M$ link for the winhlp32.exe download. After downloading, he started having problems with the laptop. He tried to restore to a previous point but that didn’t work. He can’t uninstall winhlp because it doesn’t show up anywhere. Micro$oft says call Toshiba, Toshiba says nothing should be wrong. Any ideas?

  13. I’ve installed winhlp for Vista, but the hlp files are neither visible from the “helped” task nor running the hlp file alone.
    The only thing has changed after the update is the message I get from Vista. Before I got the invitation to download the winhlp version for Vista, after the update I got the message “Impossible to open the help file. Try to open the new file. If you gat always this message try to copy the new file on a new unit and retry”

  14. i have just bought a computor with vista on it and cannot create a backup of my books – needs winhlp32.exe – have been on microsofts download site, been sent around in circles – i have a computor with xp pro on it – can i find the file there and try to install on vista? pse advise

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