How to Open .Hlp Files in Windows Vista, 7 or 8 Which Require Windows Help Program (WinHlp32.exe)?
UPDATE: Windows Help Program (WinHlp32.exe) is now also available for Windows 8.
Since Windows 3.1, Microsoft has always included Windows Help Program (WinHlp32.exe) in all newer Windows versions. It is used to view 32-bit help files which have .hlp file extension. But Microsoft decided to not include the help program in Windows Vista and all future Windows versions because WinHlp32.exe has not had a major update for many years, and it does not meet standards for all new Microsoft programs.
Now whenever you try to open a .hlp file in Windows Vista or Server 2008, you get following error message:
The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which was used in previous versions of Windows and it is not supported in Windows Vista.
And if you try to use help in some programs in Windows 7 or Server 2008 R2, you get following error message:
The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn't included in this version of Windows. However, you can download a program that will allow you to view Help created in the Windows Help format.
Windows 8 users will get following error message while trying to access help:
The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn't included in this version of Windows. For more information, go to the Microsoft Help and Support website.
But later Microsoft realized that the removal of help program can cause some problems for Windows users who want to upgrade to Windows Vista or later OS but still rely on 32-bit .hlp files. Actually there are many software that come with .hlp files to provide help and support to users. Therefore, Microsoft started making WinHlp32.exe available as a standalone download from Microsoft Download Center.
So if you also have .hlp files but can't open or view them in Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Server 2008 or Server 2008 R2, then download following update and install it in your Windows. It'll install the Windows Help program and you'll be able to view the .hlp files.
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