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Which Version of Help do I Need?

Currently there are two versions of Help available for use with Microsoft Windows: HTML Help 1.4 and the Assistance Platform client. We are focusing our efforts on providing great Help experiences in future releases of Windows rather than releasing an interim solution that is not integrated with the operating system.

In This Section

HTML Help 1.4 SDK

While Microsoft develops future Help technologies, we encourage Help authors to continue using HTML Help 1.4. HTML Help 1.4 is included in Windows 7.

Assistance Platform 1.0 Client SDK (formerly Windows Vista Help SDK)

The Assistance Platform client can only be used to display the Windows Help content set. It can be customized by OEMs, system builders, and enterprise customers under license agreement, but cannot be used by third-party programs. Displaying content that is not part of the Windows Help content set is not supported. Therefore, the Assistance Platform 1.0 Client API can only be used to display registered Help content.

Deprecated Help Systems

Windows Help (WinHlp32.exe)

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 is required to display 32-bit help content files that have the .hlp file extension.

Windows Help has been deprecated for Windows Vista. To view 32-bit Help files with the .hlp file extension in Windows Vista, you will need to download and install WinHlp32.exe from the Microsoft Download Center.

Microsoft strongly recommends that software developers discontinue using the Windows Help application. 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.

Help and Support Center (HelpCtr.exe)

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 extension.

The Help and Support Center is not included in Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, and later, and its features are not supported. Compiled Help files with the .chm file extension will be displayed only in the HTML Help application as described above.