MS Announce WinHelp to be Deprecated

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Rob Chandler [MVP]

Mar 26, 2006, 6:45:11 AM3/26/06
I've been wanting to post this notice but was not sure MVPs had a green
light from the MS Help team.

User kmckenna spotted this on the MS Website

"...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. Older
formats will continue to be supported for legacy applications through a
downloadable WinHelp? component, which will not be in Windows Vista by
So its official. WinHelp is to be depreciated.

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.

So here's the post.
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.


15-Mar-2006 - MS Announce WinHelp to be Deprecated
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."

What does this mean? What should we do?

- It means WinHelp will eventually go away.
- ISVs (Independant Software Vendors) should stop promoting WinHelp as a
viable help system.
- Authors should start moving over to HTML Help 1.x if they haven't done so

When will deprecation begin?

- The WinHelp engine will not ship on the Windows Vista Install disk.
- To assist customers MS will allow Vista users to download and install the
"WinHelp" engine. Operating systems following Vista probably wont run

So WinHelp will run under Vista but not ship with Vista?

- Correct. WinHelp32 will be a download for Windows Vista to assist
customers in the transition.


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 (finger
in wind) and will be for everyone to use. AP Help V2 is slated to install on
Windows XP and later.


Rob Chandler



Mar 31, 2006, 7:20:09 PM3/31/06

When are chm's deprecated?

Rob Chandler [MVP]

Apr 1, 2006, 1:25:57 AM4/1/06
>"jSmith" <> wrote in message

> When are chm's deprecated?

Hopefully never. :-)
I don't think that anyone is thinking that far ahead.


Apr 6, 2006, 7:34:41 PM4/6/06

They are pretty much useless if you port to Wine.

Rob Cavicchio [MVP]

Apr 11, 2006, 1:39:22 AM4/11/06
The MVPs have just learned that the WinHelp viewer will not be downloadable

Bottom line: You should not count on any of your WinHelp files being
viewable in Windows Vista.

"jSmith" <> wrote in message

Rob Chandler [MVP]

Apr 11, 2006, 6:40:40 AM4/11/06
"Rob Cavicchio [MVP]" <> wrote in message

> The MVPs have just learned that the WinHelp viewer will not be
> downloadable either.
> Bottom line: You should not count on any of your WinHelp files being
> viewable in Windows Vista.

Thanks Rob for the update. Sounds like WinWriters 2006 conference has been
eventful. :-)

I guess if everyone downloads WinHelp then MS just can't guarantee Vista's
I'm getting used to the idea of no WinHelp.

Rob Cavicchio [MVP]

Apr 14, 2006, 1:11:23 AM4/14/06
"Rob Chandler [MVP]" <> wrote in message

> Thanks Rob for the update. Sounds like WinWriters 2006 conference has been
> eventful. :-)

Or you could say, particularly "un"-eventful. ;-)

Rob Cavicchio
Microsoft Help MVP

Apr 21, 2006, 4:01:55 AM4/21/06
It sounds like MS have backed off on previously published plans
regarding AP and MAML? A while back there seemed to be emerging a load
of advice about how things would pan out technology wise. Now they seem
to be rethinking a bit more.

Do you think this is from the reaction to "doing away with a large help
file with TOC in favour of more disperate assistance delivered in a
variety of plavces"?



Rob Chandler [MVP]

Apr 30, 2006, 1:10:58 AM4/30/06
<> wrote in message

Hi Andy
I think much that was published is still going far as I know
(like going to XML based help; new attitudes towards UA and UI)
You can read about these changes in an article I published a few years back.

WritersUA conference may have hinted that some things are in flux.
Well that's to be expected in software development. Things will change
right up to the point of release. Names may change, release dates may
etc. but I think the AP Help basics have not changed.

Its important to remember that large reference documents are
not really a candidate for AP Hep. They need the TOC and strong navigation
At the moment AP Help is all about application help and giving the user very
targeted F1 help quickly so they can solve their problem and get back to
work. There is no need to expose the user to a large TOC in application help

I guess if you look at the history of help, AP Help is sort of halfway
the brief field-level "What This" help and the CHM help which offers too
help (99% never read).

But time will tell :-) When is Vista and Office 2007 due? November?


Rob Chandler

May 2, 2006, 3:25:18 AM5/2/06
Do you think we could end up with a situation of producing large TOC
based helps and Application Helps.

I had assumed that we would be able to integrate the two (as we do now
in a .chm) as they will probably contain overlapping information.

Any thoughts?

Rob Chandler [MVP]

May 5, 2006, 11:38:22 AM5/5/06
I think its on the cards. But only time will tell. :-)

<> wrote in message

Rob Chandler [MVP]

May 24, 2006, 7:57:55 PM5/24/06
So... some good news on the Windows Vista / WinHelp front.
Microsoft have now decided that Longhorn users CAN download the WinHelp32
(originally MS indicated WinHelp would not work on Windows Vista at all)

Its official. The notice has been published as a KB article KB917607

"... 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..."


Michel Farhi-Chevillard

Mar 15, 2021, 2:57:49 PMMar 15
15 years later, any update when MS will kill CHM support in Windows 10? Are you guys talking about it internally?
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