MS Help 2

About MS Help 2

Help file: .hxs -- Proprietary file format requires VS SDK to compile.
Project files: HXC, HXT, HXK etc

MS Help 2.x was announced at WinWriters on March 5, 2001. Microsoft Help 2.x is the Help engine used by the following products:
  • Visual Studio 2002/2003/2005/2008 (version 7, 7.1, 8, 9)
  • Early MSDN & TechNet publications
  • Borland/Embarcadero compiler help
  • Microsoft Office XP Developer
  • Microsoft Office 2007 -- Note that only some of the Help 2 runtime files are installed with Office 2007. HxDs.dll is installed but not DExplore or HxVz.dll which contains the visuals (TOC and Index controls) since Office 12 has it's own custom viewer and TOC/Index controls.
"Document Explorer" or DExplore.exe is the help viewer shipping with MS Hep 2.

Information & Articles

File location:
  • Help folder for All Users -- c:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft Help
    Maybe "All Users.Windows" under XP
  • Help folder for local install -- c:\Documents and Settings\YourUserName\Application Data\Microsoft Help
  • Help Runtime location: c:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Help\
  • Help SDK Folder: c:\Program Files\Microsoft Help 2.0 SDK\
Fixing MS Help 2:


  • Apr 2002 - VSHIK 2.1 was first released (Visual Studio Help Integration Kit)
  • May 2002 - VSHIK 2.1 minor update - Documentation changes only.
  • May 2003 - VSHIK 2003 (2.2) released - VS 7.1 compatible
  • Aug 2003 - VSHIK 2003 minor update - Documentation fixes only
  • Jan 2003 - The Microsoft Help team has decided not to release Microsoft Help 2 as a general Help platform... MS Help 2 will remain a VS Help integration tool.
  • Aug 2003 - Borland released C# Builder Documentation using MS Help 2 and displayed in DExplore. They are legally able to do this because they are licensed to distribute .NET SDK (which installs MS Help 2 runtime).
  • July 2005 - VS 2005 Beta 2 release. The SDK, VSHIK (VS Help Integration Kit) is now part of the Visual Studio 2005 SDK (formerly known as VSIP). MS now advise that we plug our 3rd party collections into MS.VSIPCC.
  • Dec 2005 - Help Integration Wizard release version (VS 2005 compatible) is now available.