Windows Help Not Supported on Windows?

I was just going to look something up in the help file for Putty, and this window popped up:

So, it’s happened – Windows Vista can’t read Windows help files by default. Wow. This page here explains Microsoft’s reasoning, basically that “… the Windows Help program has not had a major update for many releases and no longer meets Microsoft standards.”

I should think that with Microsoft’s resources at my disposal, it shouldn’t be much of a problem to create an update to the old application that meets the standards, but there you go. The good news is, there’s a simple solution: just click here to download a Windows update file with support for 32 bit help – there’s even a 64 bit version available. Interesting, huh? Did I mention there’s support for 16 bit help included in Vista by default? So what’s the point of leaving out the 32 bit support, I wonder…

Probably Microsoft is trying to push people away from the still very popular HLP format, for instance towards CHM or Help 2. I can understand that, and to a degree I even think it’s a good idea. But how about providing convincing arguments for such a change, instead of arbitrarily restricting functionality in new OS versions? HLP has a boatload of features that CHM doesn’t have (and both formats haven’t changed significantly in many years), and Help 2 is rather complex to use (and I think it still doesn’t do a lot of what HLP did). I can understand how it’s rather hard to convince software companies to use the new formats if they aren’t visibly better than the old ones.

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