I must apologise in advance as this may contain some nerd rage.
I have an application I added to my system last week. I’ll not be shy about it. It’s the Morrowind FPS Optimizer. It allows modern screen resolutions and graphical tweaks for Morrowind. Yes, Morrowind. It’s a 13 year old entry in the Elder Scrolls series. I’m an RPG geek and a retro gamer. Stop judging me.
Like many such tweaking applications it helpfully comes with a windows help file in .hlp format. Sadly, in Windows 8.1 Microsoft have apparently changed the way their help system works and these files no longer open natively. No functionality exists out-of-the-box in Windows 8.1 to open these files and I expect that’s because Microsoft would much rather I be using some shiny fullscreen touch app than something that got unceremoniously unzipped into a directory.
Helpfully, though, on clicking on this file or pressing F1 it will load a Windows Help document telling me why I can’t open the file and directing me to the Microsoft support page for more info. This leads me to knowledge-base article 917607. Which helpfully guides me through downloading and installing the WinHlp32.exe (including reminding me that I should be using Internet Explorer, which I obediently switched to for the duration just to prevent any finger wagging later). I’m running a 32-bit x86 system so I picked the 32-bit version for x86, which resulted in the following:
Just to rule out any confusion I also downloaded and ran the offered version for Windows 8.0. Same error.
From a quick Google I unearthed a helpful thread on Microsoft’s answers page (http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_8-windows_install/installing-winhelp32exe-on-windows-8-pro/03c15af2-0402-4098-96d9-6efe2ea2b545) that reveals that the incomparability stems from me not running an Eng US system. What? Seriously? Apparently so. It’s my fault for being a foreigner.
There is a workaround that involves leaving the Microsoft infrastructure for a third party forum and downloading an old version (http://www.eightforums.com/software-apps/7540-winhlp32-exe-how-can-i-enable-legacy-windows-help-system-windows-8-a.html)…
Unacceptable Microsoft! This is an issue that’s been raised for about for a year and a half at least. A basic issue that should be easily fixed, but instead involves your customers going to third party forums, downloading unverified software from unknown websites and installing it by changing the ownership of system files and possibly buggering up their computer. As I’ve been doing this sort of thing for years and use Linux as my day to day system I’d like to think I know what I’m doing but the vast majority of your customers don’t have this level of experience of knowledge and will either have to go without legacy help entirely or risk buggering up their system.
Once again another shoddy job from Microsoft.