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Appendix C: Help Display Technologies

Published: December 27, 2004

This section contrasts two Help display technologies used in Windows XP, and describes the way one technology, HTML Help, communicates with Internet sites when Help is displayed for an individual component in Windows XP.

This communication between HTML Help and Internet sites does not occur with Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2. To prevent the communication, use Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 instead of with Service Pack 1.

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Overview of Help Display Technologies in Windows XP
How Windows XP Communicates with Sites on the Internet When Displaying Help for Individual Components

Overview of Help Display Technologies in Windows XP

In Windows XP, users can view Help and Support for the entire operating system by clicking Start and then clicking Help and Support. Users can also view Help for some of the individual components, for example, Event Viewer, through a technology called HTML Help. Users use this Help display technology by opening a component and either clicking the Help icon (a yellow question mark) or by clicking the Help menu and then clicking Help topics.

The Help display technologies differ somewhat in the way they display information. However, both technologies provide a variety of useful display capabilities that allow the user to do such things as expand or collapse a section of text, view a pop-up, or click a shortcut to open an interface.

How Windows XP Communicates with Sites on the Internet When Displaying Help for Individual Components

When a user clicks the Help menu or Help icon in an individual component such as Event Viewer, HTML Help receives support from Internet Explorer in the process of displaying the Help topics. When Help is displayed this way, Internet Explorer contacts a Microsoft Web site and requests an ActiveX control that could be used to modify the display. The control, however, is never downloaded, and HTML Help displays the content without using it. The search for the ActiveX control occurs because the Help files in Windows XP contain enhanced functionality that improves the display in Help and Support Center. Note that when the Help files are displayed in Help and Support Center, the enhanced functionality does not cause a request to be sent to the Internet.

The Web sites that Internet Explorer contacts when Help is displayed through HTML Help are as follows:

The communication with Internet sites described in this appendix does not occur with Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2. To prevent the communication, use Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 instead of with Service Pack 1.

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