Export (0) Print
Expand All
Expand Minimize

Help and Support Features that Communicate Through the Internet in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2

Updated: December 16, 2009

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2

In this section

Benefits and purposes of features within Help and Support that communicate through the Internet

Overview: Using Help and Support in a managed environment

How features within Help and Support communicate with Internet sites

Controlling features within Help and Support that communicate through the Internet

Procedures for disabling features within Help and Support that communicate through the Internet

This section provides information about the Help and Support feature in Windows® 7 and Windows Server® 2008 R2. (Users can locate Help and Support from the Start menu, through Control Panel, through Windows Explorer, and in several other ways.) It does not describe the Help that displays from Microsoft® Management Console (MMC) snap-ins, because this Help does not communicate across the Internet. This section includes information about the following:

  • The capabilities within the Help and Support feature in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. These capabilities are Online Help, Help ratings and feedback (this is a link at the bottom of a Help topic that allows a user to provide feedback when Online Help is turned on), and the Help Experience Improvement Program. The links to the Internet that are displayed in Help and Support are also described.

  • How Online Help, Help ratings and feedback, and the Help Experience Improvement Program communicate with sites on the Internet.

  • How to control Online Help, Help ratings and feedback, and the Help Experience Improvement Program to limit the flow of information to and from the Internet.

Help and Support in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 displays information that helps you understand how to accomplish some of the tasks that can be performed by using the Windows interface.

noteNote
This section provides information about the Help and Support feature in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. It does not describe the Help that displays from MMC snap-ins, because this Help does not communicate across the Internet. MMC snap-ins are interfaces that you use to administer most server roles and features.

The information that is displayed through the Help and Support feature can be local information that is built into Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2, or it can be updated information that is obtained through the Internet. Help and Support also has the ability to ask users to send feedback or other data to Microsoft, which enables Microsoft to improve Help.

The features in Help and Support that communicate through the Internet provide the following types of functionality:

  • Online Help display: In Help and Support, when Online Help is turned on, you can see information about Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 that is more extensive or more recently updated than the local information that is stored within the operating system.

  • Help ratings and feedback: In Help and Support, when Online Help is turned on, you can enter feedback into a brief form at the bottom of a Help topic, and send that feedback to Microsoft. This feedback can be used to help Microsoft improve that topic and similar Help topics.

  • Help Experience Improvement Program: Through this optional program, customers allow data to be collected about how they navigate through the Help and Support feature—typing search queries, clicking links to local Help and Support topics, clicking links to information on the Web, and so on. This data is collected and associated with a non-descriptive ID value, which shows that the information is all from a single user, but otherwise does not collect characteristics about that user (for example, name or location). The collected data is sent to Microsoft, where it is used to improve the Help and Support experience (better responses to searches, better choice and placement of links, and so on) for future Help.

  • Links to the Internet that appear when Help and Support is opened: The display that appears when Help and Support is first opened offers a variety of links, including some that can help you find Web-based information about Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2. These links go to Windows communities, Microsoft online support, and similar Web sites.

You can access Help and Support in a number of ways, including:

  • Selecting Help and Support from the Start menu.

  • Pressing F1 within locations such as Control Panel, Windows Explorer, Computer, Documents, and Network. In some interfaces, such as Windows Explorer, you can also click the Help icon to view Help and Support.

From within Help and Support, by default, you can choose whether to:

  • Access Online Help content or only offline content.

  • Provide Microsoft with feedback about a Help topic (if Online Help is turned on).

  • Participate in the Help Experience Improvement Program (if Online Help is turned on).

  • Click a link to information that is online, for example, the Script Center or Knowledge Base.

By using Group Policy or the Windows user interface, you can disable Online Help, Help ratings and feedback, and the Help Experience Improvement Program. The links in Help and Support that go to Web-based resources such as Script Center or Knowledge Base can be disabled only by blocking communication with the Internet.

More details about the methods and procedures for controlling Online Help, Help ratings and feedback, and the Help Experience Improvement Program are described in the following subsections.

Help and Support can display Help topics that are built into the local operating system, or it can display Web-based topics that are more extensive or more recently updated than the local information. This subsection describes how the Online Help feature communicates so that it can display Web-based Help information from Microsoft.

noteNote
If this feature is disabled through Group Policy, Help and Support does not display banners or options for turning it on.

  • Specific information sent or received: To help determine the correct Help topic to display, certain information is collected from the computer and uploaded to a server (in a Microsoft-controlled facility) that hosts the updated Help topics. Following is a list of the information collected:

    • The search text string that you entered (if you are searching) or the unique identifier for the topic to be displayed (if you clicked a topic link).

    • The language/locale identifier, for example en-us for English (United States).

    • If you are searching, the edition of the operating system that is installed, for example, Windows 7 as contrasted with Windows Server 2008 R2 or another edition of the operating system. If you clicked a topic link, information about the operating system is not sent.

    • A standard parameter that specifies a preferred form for downloading. The topic will be sent in a compressed form (a .cab file) if it is available.

  • User notification and default setting and triggers: When you first open Help, the following prompt appears: "Do you want to get the latest online content when you search Help?" After you make a choice, Online Help or Offline Help is displayed on the menu in the lower-right corner of the Help display. You can click the menu and change to the other option whenever Help and Support is running. The Online/Offline feature keeps track of the last setting selected and uses that setting the next time it is opened. If a connection to the Internet is not available, this is indicated by a red and white X icon next to the words Offline Help in the lower-right corner of the Help display, and a banner at the top with the same icon.

  • Logging: You can view the event log that is related to Online Help searches by opening Event Viewer and expanding Applications and Services Logs\Microsoft\Windows\Help.

  • Encryption: The data that is transferred to Microsoft is not encrypted.

  • Access: Information about queries is held for a short time on servers in Microsoft facilities, and it is used to improve the performance of subsequent searches of Online Help content. After the search optimization is completed, the information is discarded. The information from these searches is not analyzed unless you have chosen to participate in the Help Experience Improvement Program.

  • Privacy: Microsoft uses search query information to return the most relevant Help topics and to improve existing content. Information that is collected by Online Help and Support is not used to identify you. If you type information that identifies you into the Search text box, the information will be sent, but Microsoft does not use the information to identify you or contact you.

  • Transmission protocol and port: The transmission protocol used is HTTP and the port is 80.

  • Ability to disable: An administrator can disable Online Help by using Group Policy. A user or administrator can turn off Online Help through the Help and Support Center user interface.

If you use Help and Support to view a topic while Online Help is turned on, the question "Was this information helpful?" appears at the bottom of the topic. You can click a response and after a short series of prompts, you can type a comment about the topic. After you click Finish, the information about the topic is sent to Microsoft. The information is used to help improve that topic and similar Help topics. This subsection describes how the Help ratings and feedback capability communicates through the Internet.

  • Specific information sent or received: The following information is sent to Microsoft when you provide feedback by responding to prompts at the bottom of a topic in Help and Support:

    • Your answers to the prompts at the bottom of the Help topic, plus any comment that you type

    • An ID code that identifies the topic that the comment was about and, if applicable, the search query that you typed before selecting that topic

  • Default setting: If Online Help is turned on after the prompt appears for the first display of Help, Help ratings and feedback is turned on (that is, the prompt appears at the bottom of each Help topic). However, Help ratings and feedback can be disabled through a Group Policy setting.

  • Triggers and user notification: Your feedback about the topic in Help and Support is sent when you click Finish (after typing responses to a short series of questions at the bottom of the Help topic). After you click Finish, a statement displays thanking you for the comments.

  • Logging: The feedback that you send is logged on a server in a Microsoft-controlled facility.

  • Encryption: The data that is transferred to Microsoft is not encrypted.

  • Access: User assistance teams at Microsoft can view the feedback that users send, but the teams receive no information about the identity of the person sending the feedback.

  • Privacy: Microsoft uses the information to develop new content and to improve existing content. Information that is collected by Online Help and Support is not used to identify you. If you type information that identifies you into the feedback text boxes, the information will be sent, but Microsoft does not use the information to identify you or contact you.

  • Transmission protocol and port: The transmission protocol used is HTTP and the port is 80.

  • Ability to disable: An administrator can disable this feature by using Group Policy. If Online Help is turned off (through Group Policy or the Help and Support Center interface), this also turns off the Help ratings and feedback capability.

Through the Help Experience Improvement Program, you have the option to allow data to be collected about how you navigate while using Online Help—typing search queries, clicking links to Help topics, clicking links to Web sites, and so on. This data (which does not include a user name or computer name) is collected and sent to Microsoft, where it is used to better understand how to improve navigation (better responses to searches, better choice and placement of links, and so on) for future Help and Support topics.

noteNote
If this feature is disabled through Group Policy. Help and Support does not display menus or options for turning it on.

  • Specific information sent or received: Information about the following is sent when the Help Experience Improvement Program is enabled on the computer. This information is sent about actions taken in Help and Support only, not actions taken in the Help that is displayed from MMC snap-ins. The information includes the following:

    • Search queries

    • Choices of Help and Support topics (from lists in Search results or the Table of Contents)

    • Information that shows how you navigate through Help and Support, and how you view topics—clicking links to local Help topics, clicking links to information on the Web, using the Back and Forward buttons, printing a topic, and closing Help and Support.

    In addition, the following information is sent when the Help Experience Improvement Program is enabled on the computer:

    • A unique, non-descriptive ID value, which shows that the information is all from a single person; otherwise, it does not collect characteristics about that person (for example, name or location).

  • Default setting and triggers: By default, the Help Experience Improvement Program is not turned on. If it is turned on, this triggers the process of collecting data and (on occasion) sending the data to Microsoft.

  • User notification: Turning on the Help Experience Improvement Program serves as the user notification. After the program is turned on, data is sent without further notification.

  • Logging: Data that is sent from the Help Experience Improvement Program is logged on a server in a Microsoft-controlled facility, but it is not logged locally.

  • Encryption: The data that is transferred to Microsoft is not encrypted.

  • Access: User assistance teams at Microsoft can view the data that is sent, but the teams receive no information about the identity of the person whose Help navigation activity is recorded in the data.

  • Privacy: Microsoft uses the information to develop new content and to improve existing content. Information that is collected by Online Help and Support is not used to identify you. If you type information that identifies you into the Search text box, the information will be sent, but Microsoft does not use the information to identify you or contact you.

  • Transmission protocol and port: The transmission protocol used is HTTP and the port is 80.

  • Ability to disable: An administrator can disable the Help Experience Improvement Program by using Group Policy. A user or administrator can also turn participation in the program on or off through the Help and Support Center user interface. If Online Help is turned off (through Group Policy or the Help and Support Center user interface), this also turns off the Help Experience Improvement Program.

The following list summarizes how you can control the features within Help and Support that communicate through the Internet:

  • Online Help

    • Through the Windows interface: In Help and Support, Online Help can be turned off through a menu in the lower-right corner or through Options\Settings in the upper-right corner.

    • Through Group Policy: In User Configuration under Policies (if present), in Administrative Templates\System\Internet Communication Management\Internet Communication settings, you can enable Turn off Windows Online.

  • Help ratings and feedback

    • Through the Windows interface: In Help and Support, you can turn off the Help ratings and feedback capability by turning off Online Help, which is controlled through a menu in the lower-right corner or through Options\Settings in the upper-right corner.

    • Through Group Policy: In User Configuration under Policies (if present), in Administrative Templates\System\Internet Communication Management\Internet Communication settings, you can enable Turn off Help Ratings.

  • Help Experience Improvement Program

    • Through the Windows interface: In Help and Support, you can turn off the Help Experience Improvement Program by clicking the menu in either the upper-right or lower-right corner and then clicking Settings. If Online Help is turned off, this also turns off the Help Experience Improvement Program. Also, in the Settings interface, you can turn off only the Help Experience Improvement Program and leave other Online Help features turned on.

    • Through Group Policy: In User Configuration under Policies (if present), in Administrative Templates\System\Internet Communication Management\Internet Communication settings, you can enable Turn off Help Experience Improvement Program.

The following procedures describe how to:

  • Turn off Online Help on an individual computer running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2. This also turns off the Help ratings and feedback capability and the Help Experience Improvement Program.

  • Turn off the Help Experience Improvement Program on an individual computer running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2.

  • Use Group Policy to disable any of the features within Help that communicate through the Internet.

  1. Click Start, and then click Help and Support.

  2. In the lower-right corner of Help and Support, find a menu titled either Online Help or Offline Help.

    noteNote
    If the menu does not appear, it means that Group Policy settings are in effect that turn off the associated Help and Support capabilities.

  3. Confirm or configure the setting as follows:

    • If the menu says Offline Help and it does not have a red and white X icon, Online Help is already turned off.

    • If the menu says Offline Help and it has a red and white X icon, Online Help is turned on but there is no connection to the Internet. To turn off Online Help, click Get offline Help.

    • If the menu says Online Help, Online Help is turned on and there is a connection to the Internet. To turn it off, click Get offline Help.

      noteNote
      When Online Help is turned off, the Help ratings and feedback capability and the Help Experience Improvement Program are turned off.

  1. Click Start, and then click Help and Support.

  2. In the upper-right corner of Help and Support, click Options, and then click Settings.

    noteNote
    If the Settings command does not appear, it means that a Group Policy that controls these settings is in effect.

  3. Make sure that the Join the Help Experience Improvement Program check box is cleared.

  1. Using an account with domain administrative credentials, log on to a computer that is running Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7 (with the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) installed).

    noteNote
    For information about using Group Policy, see Appendix B: Resources for Learning About Group Policy for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 later in this document.

  2. Click Start, type gpmc.msc, and then press ENTER.

  3. Select an appropriate Group Policy object (GPO) and expand User Configuration.

    ImportantImportant
    For these settings, do not select Computer Configuration. The settings under Computer Configuration that relate to Help do not affect Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2.

  4. Expand Policies (if present), expand Administrative Templates, expand System, expand Internet Communication Management, and then click Internet Communication settings.

  5. In the details pane, double-click Turn off Help Ratings, click Enabled, and then click OK.

    (For all settings in this procedure, you can also click the Explain tab to view information about the setting, and then click the Setting tab again.)

  6. In the details pane, double-click Turn off Help Experience Improvement Program, click Enabled, and then click OK.

  7. In the details pane, double-click Turn off Windows Online, click Enabled, and then click OK. (When you turn off Windows Online, you also turn off Help Ratings and the Help Experience Improvement Program.)

    ImportantImportant
    You can also restrict Internet access for this and a number of other features by applying the Restrict Internet communication Group Policy setting, which is located in User Configuration under Policies (if present), in Administrative Templates\System\Internet Communication Management. For more information about this Group Policy setting and the policies that it controls, see Appendix C: Group Policy Settings Listed Under the Internet Communication Management Category in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 later in this document.

Was this page helpful?
(1500 characters remaining)
Thank you for your feedback

Community Additions

ADD
Show:
© 2014 Microsoft