Today I’m experiencing a new issue with Windows 8.1 (64-Bit). The old WinHelp32.exe fix doesn’t work anymore. Windows8.1-KB917607-x64.msu isn’t functional anymore with Windows 8.1 (patch level December 2014).
What’s the problem?
Windows 8.1 isn’t shipped with support for old .hlp files. Luckily Microsoft provided a solution to view old .hlp files. The website Windows Help program (WinHlp32.exe) for Windows 8.1 provides instructions and files, to update Windows 8.1 in a way, that old .hlp files may be viewable.
Under normal circumstances it’s sufficient, to download and install the appropriate .msu file. I’ve tested it with success in the past.
Windows 8.1 (Patchlevel December 2014) won’t work anymore
Today I was stumbled uppon two entries in German MS answers forum (here and here), where users are claiming, that the old solutions won’t work anymore. And I also received a similar e-mail. This user is claiming, that the old help file viewer works till end of November/ begin of December. But now Windows 8.1 fails to show .hlp files.
Testing it on one of my German Windows 8.1 64-bit-systems (patch level December 18. 2014), showed me, that Windows8.1-KB917607-x64.msu installed fine. But afterward I wasn’t able to view .hlp files.
Currently I’m still investigating this issue (I just startet system restore to set my system back to May 2014). But my current guess is, that either December 9th patches or the today’s patch KB 3025390: Fix for screwups in Internet Explorer 11 screwed up something. Any further suggestions are welcome.
Discussing technical background of this issue
The reason for this issue has been discussed in Microsoft Answers forum in thread November rollup KB3000850 and winhlp KB917607. In short: November rollup KB3000850 updated winhlp32.exe to a version, which doesn’t support opening old .hlp files.
The problem: Since this new component have higher assembly version, installing the fixed hlp file component in KB917607 won’t solve the hlp issue, because the fixed hlp file component become not active and isn’t used. So users are facing this message again:
Unfortunatly I haven’t seen an updated component KB917607 that fixes this issue.
Workaround for KB3000850 HLP file issue
A temporary workaround has been posted at Microsoft Answers-Forum from user Abbodi86 (the same guy who gave us the explanation above):
You can use this temporary workaround. Extract the script, and put KB917607 .msu file next to it, then run as admin.
However, this workaround will cause SFC to give an error regarding %windir%\winhlp32.exe – you can ignore in the mean time
Hope it helps – a feedback is appreciated.