back to article Press F to pay respects to the Windows 10 April Update casualties

The Windows 10 April Update has begun seeping out from beneath the Redmond bathroom door. As an antidote to the excitement of the new, let us take a moment to mourn the passing of the old. First on Microsoft's roll of honour was Groove Music Pass. The music service, which was loved by a niche of users, got a Spotify-shaped …

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  1. Alan Bourke

    "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

    LOL, cold.

    I'll miss CHM files. Yeah, it's all online, but not every device is online always. Plus the search facility on the online equivalents tends to suck.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

      Oh yeah, had a job doing technical writing and compiling CHM files. Previously it was HLP files.

      Sometimes we just want to view help documentation offline, and not get online (and launch a browser) to do that.

      1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

        When your network is out...

        "Sometimes we just want to view help documentation offline, and not get online (and launch a browser) to do that."

        Nothing more infuriating than a help system trying to go online when your network config or DNS or ISP has gone AWOL.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

        "Sometimes we just want"

        And Micro-shaft makes sure you ONLY GET what *THEY* WANT you to have!

        1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

          Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

          Well done., love.

          I knew one would be along eventually, bless.

      3. Paul 129
        Gimp

        Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

        html is not just for online browsing. Write it once for both on and offline.

        You can even, if your feeling masochistic, write it for printing

    2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

      Unless the problem you need help with is the fact that you can't get online. I wonder how MS intends to deliver help files when your network connection has been rendered FUBAR due to the latest MS update?

      I'll get my coat, it's the one with the recursive Catch 22 trap in the pocket containing the recursive Catch 22 trap in th

      1. Jon 37

        Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

        > Unless the problem you need help with is the fact that you can't get online

        Most people have mobile Internet on their phone for when the PC is broken, and wired Internet on their PC for when their phone is broken.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "have mobile Internet on their phone for when the PC is broken"

          There are still some situations you can't get online whatever technology you can use, and you would still like to have help available.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: "have mobile Internet on their phone for when the PC is broken"

            "There are still some situations" [snip] " and you would still like to have help available"

            I've already tried these kinds of "cloud based only help" things before [read: DevStudio after 2010] and NEVAR want this kind of ABOMINATION *EVAR* *AGAIN*!!!

            I don't need internet bandwidth choke points (or service outages) to get in the way of me doing work. wasting spending time commenting on El Reg takes up too much of my time already...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

          > Most people have mobile Internet on their phone for when the PC is broken

          Unless, of course, you (a) live somewhere with zero cellular signal, or (b) work somewhere where mobile devices are forbidden. Neither of which is as uncommon as you might think.

        3. BlartVersenwaldIII
          Go

          Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

          > Most people have mobile Internet on their phone for when the PC is broken

          "Siri, I can't get online so the help key on my windows machine doesn't show me the help page I need. What would it have shown me if it did have an internet connection?"

          Clearly a superior solution to wasting dozens, I say DOZENS of megabytes of offline documentation!

        4. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

          "Most people have mobile Internet on their phone for when the PC is broken, and wired Internet on their PC for when their phone is broken."

          With a data plan that's all used up, or about to be once you've navigated through a maze of help options, none of which quite address the problem you are having.

          1. ThomH Silver badge

            Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

            The other advantage of CHM files is binding the lifetime of the documentation to the lifetime of the application. Windows is supposed to be the platform that cares about backward compatibility; the push to server-based everything — including help files — strongly undercuts that.

          2. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

            "once you've navigated through a maze circle jerk of help options, none of which quite address the problem you are having."

            fixed it. you're welcome. sometimes a local 'grep' gets you the answer faster than being jerked about by link-hell.

            (ok it means installing Cygwin on a winders box, but I generally do that)

        5. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

          "Most people have mobile Internet on their phone for when the PC is broken, and wired Internet on their PC for when their phone is broken."

          I'd downvote with the link but the count is currently '42'

        6. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

          At home, both lead to the same green cabinet at the end of the street, so if there is a problem between there and the exchange, neither option is going to work.

          1. Havin_it

            Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

            My phone's data connection goes through the cabinet as well? Damn. I should try to get them to route mine through the cabinet near my mum's place, I always get better speeds there.

            And if the problem's in the cabinet, how much help is the Windows manual going to be?

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

        Thus, we have a couple of desktops and a laptop (for travel). I only update them one at a time... just in case. Even still, I usually wait at least a week to see what issues occurred. But if I had only one, I'd be very reluctant to ever run an update....

      3. Ilsa Loving

        Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

        >Unless the problem you need help with is the fact that you can't get online. I wonder how MS intends to deliver help files when your network connection has been rendered FUBAR due to the latest MS update?

        >I'll get my coat, it's the one with the recursive Catch 22 trap in the pocket containing the recursive Catch 22 trap in th

        The sad part is that that isn't even a joke. Wasn't it last year when MS put out an update that destroyed everybody's DHCP?

        1. Donn Bly

          Re: Wasn't it last year when MS put out an update that destroyed everybody's DHCP?

          I don't remember - but it was only last month when they put out an update that destroyed static IP addresses

        2. jeffdyer

          Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

          Was it? I didn't notice it on any of my PCs.

      4. JimboSmith Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

        Unless the problem you need help with is the fact that you can't get online

        Reminds me of the episode in Cheers where Woody is trying to set up the VCR. He's having difficulty but is delighted when he discovers that there is a "how to set up your VCR" VHS cassette included. Sadly I can't find the clip on YouTube.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

        Message when you call company X's phone number - "For help setting up your internet router, visit www.Yourescrewed.com and select 'Support' from the main page"

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

      Once, you hit F1 and got a relevant help screen. Not you hit F1, and an almost random page opens in a browser with very little, if any, useful information. Also both WinHelp and CHM had navigation features and a way to organize contents so you could explore them. Also, you had everything in a single file, instead of several ones, and there were no viewer compatibility problems.

      Another example of how IT went backwards in the past years, cobbling up "solutions" using the wrong tools, and just making users experience worse.

      1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

        Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

        ."Also both WinHelp and CHM had navigation features and a way to organize contents so you could explore them. "

        I've learned an awful lot through the years just digging around help files to see what's there.

        1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

          Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

          Same here. I called it spelunking and more than a few things I've found over the years yielded novel approaches even if Microsoft wasn't even aware of how they could be put together. Or anyone else for that matter.

      2. cynic56

        Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

        @LDS

        How many upvotes can I give you? However many it is, it isn't enough.

      3. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

        I have yet to find Office's online help find anything relevant. It might as well not exist.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

          Over the years my experience of Microsoft's help files is that they only tell you the blindingly obvious and ignore anything that might be complicated (i.e. that you might want to find out about)

        2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

          I have yet to find Office's online help find anything relevant. It might as well not exist.

          The "real" Office online help process appears to be: "Typing in a variable selection of keywords into google until a genuinely relevant online article pops up in the first page of search results. Bonus points are available if it's actually relevant to the version of MS Office you are trying to get help for.".

      4. G2

        Re: Once, you hit F1...

        just tried it now, F1 doesn't do anything in my Firefox. It's as if I didn't press anything.

        according to https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Tools/Keyboard_shortcuts

        it only works in the developer tools now, and you have to press F12 or CTRL+SHIFT+i to enable that first.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Once, you hit F1...

          This requires developers to follow UI guidelines. Now every piece of software has its own GUI, including MS, I don't think they're going to bother about F1 for help.

          1. 5p0ng3b0b
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: Once, you hit F1...

            Could be <FN F1> for help nowadays depending on keyboard/bios settings.

      5. viscount

        Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

        "Not you hit F1, and an almost random page opens in a browser with very little, if any, useful information."

        This. I remember when MS help was awesome - full, clear and context sensitive in Excel for example. Now you get random links to websites that often don't exist anymore, along with lots of worse than useless "community content".

    4. J27

      Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

      I won't miss writing them, Microsoft gave up on the format years ago and as a result writing CHM files is like building a web page for IE 4, with all the problems that come with that. Half the time I never knew what would work and what wouldn't. Local help files are cool and all, but the CHM format is terrible.

      As a side note I no longer have to worry about local help files because I now write web applications. If you can't access the Internet then there is little point in being able to read the documentation. I have also noticed that most people don't care if their applications work without the Internet, and you know what that means. If the users don't care, the programmers aren't going to bother. Much to the chagrin of you crusty old IT types, I'm sure.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

        Local help files are cool and all, but the CHM format is terrible.

        Well, CHM is a Compressed HtMl format. Maybe what we need is a new standard, call it CHMx or something.

        The files would live locally on the PC, but a service like windows update could check every so often to see if a new version is available for download.

    5. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

      Nice pussy.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

      IF you click the I don't care options for privacy, Cortana now does things like offer you relevant coupons in Edge for the site you are visiting. For instance visiting Dell.co.uk I was offered some quite useful discounts.

      And the asking is a little Cortana overly in the address bar, not a pop up and not otherwise intrusive unless you choose to select it.

      So whilst it's an invasive feature it's also potentially useful and has been quite well implemented imo.

    7. tfewster Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

      I won't miss the vulnerabilities in WinHlp32.exe

      But what's wrong with using a browser to point to an index file on your hard disk? A few meg on an install DVD, and minor updates over the net? Search would suck, but at least it's searching a curated collection.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "But what's wrong with using a browser to point to"

        Because suddenly you upgrade the browser and the old pages work no longer, because something changed in JavaScript or HTML support. Or the remote updates disappear, become inconsistent, with broken links.

        Vulnerabilities can be fixed (and should we talk about browser vulnerabilities, especially when accessing remote contents?), WinHelp was much more integrated with applications. Remember the help tooltips you could get by clicking the "?" icon in a dialog and then a control? That was a WinHelp feature no browser can deliver, and was removed. It was very handy to get quick help.

        Moreover WinHelp was much faster to load and display the looked for content, sure, less features than actual web pages, but you didn't need to build applications into WinHelp.

        It was also easier to write - without the complexity of HTML - which you don't really need - it was faster to write contents and focus on them, and no need to create indexing and navigation from scratch - they were built-in.

        1. MrXavia
          Stop

          Re: "But what's wrong with using a browser to point to"

          "Because suddenly you upgrade the browser and the old pages work no longer, because something changed in JavaScript or HTML support"

          Would be some seriously badly written HTML with JS to stop working on any browser, we are talking Help pages, which should be simple HTML with a bit of CSS, and still work if the CSS is missing.

          Even if the new standards are implemented and features were removed, these should still work in any browser.

    8. JLV Silver badge

      Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

      Not to mention that, maybe, perhaps, the contents of your local help file might actually be relevant to the version at hand, rather than applicable to a Windows/Office/whatever version different than yours. Who knows, they might even update the navigation instructions to correspond to Windows' navigation choice of the week.

    9. Tim Bergel
      WTF?

      Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

      Am I being foolish here or are you? Or is it the article that is incorrect? I'm pretty sure that WinHlp32 is used to open .hlp files, .chm are handled by hh.exe. So if the article is correct, then its only really old help files that become unavailable, and those who what to can use .chm as usual. Personally I quite like .chm and Help and Manual makes it a breeze to create them.

      1. Coen Dijkgraaf

        Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

        @Tim Bergel

        The article doesn't mention .chm files at all, so either the edited to remove that, or Alan jumped to an incorrect conclusion.

    10. Stumpy Pepys

      Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

      CHM files live to fight another day; it's HLP files (their predecessor I think) that are being deprecated.

      I wish they would get rid of CHM files; I'm a tech writer and still have to produce the bloody things. Static HTML 5 runs rings around them nowadays.

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

      I've got thousands of old IT books, all helpfully published as CHM files. It's amazing how much space saving the format brings, and you can also hyperlink to the pages etc, far superior to PDF, and the thankfully dead XPS.

      Did anyone ever find a genuine use for XPS files?

  2. J J Carter Silver badge
    Trollface

    Yes!

    LOL, good old El Reg hating on MSFT for what they may do in the future.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most of the 'casualties' are Ballmer era stuff

    Groove is just a Spotify wannabe, and not a very good one at that.

    1. Hairy Weasel

      Re: Most of the 'casualties' are Ballmer era stuff

      Groove had the essential functionality of being able to stream your own music files from OneDrive. As more and more underground bands either delay the release of their albums on streaming services or just keep them at BandCamp only all together, Spotify is pretty useless for me.

      I switched to Google Play, which has somewhat similar approach, but instead of managing your own files you upload them to Google, which performs some matching algorithm which fails quite a lot. MS Groove was much superior in that regard.

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