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VS2010 Documentation Issue - The protocol "ms-xhelp" does not have a registered program. by Bob Riddle


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Type: Bug
ID: 551830
Opened: 4/16/2010 8:07:40 AM
Access Restriction: Public
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I have been running the VS2010 RTC successfully on a VM waiting for the RTM release.

Yesterday, I just downloaded and installed the actual VS2010 "Ultimate" edition release from MSDN directly onto my Win7-64bit workstation. It was already running VS2008. I selected a "Full" install. The install seemed to go normally and reported a "successful" install.

Afterwards, clicking on the "Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Documentation" link yields the following error dialog. "Unable to open this Internet Shortcut. The protocol 'ms-xhelp' does not have a registered program".

After researching this on the 'web, I looked for the "readme_eng.htm" file many people mentioned and discovered that I have no "\Microsoft Help\v3.0" directory under either "Program Files" or "Program Files (x86)". Clicking on the VS2010 "Help|Manage Help Settings" menu yields no effect. There is also no Help3 registry key under "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Help". And there is no AgentPort value under the "v1.0" node associated with that key.

No "F1" help opens from the IDE. If I reopen the VS2010 Setup, no separate option for "Documentation" is available under the "Add new features". Without the "Manage Help Settings" menu functionality, I cannot figure out how to manually load the local documenation "Help Content Setup.hsha" file.
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Posted by Bob Riddle on 5/13/2010 at 6:28 AM
I appreciate you replying, but I wanted to let you know that I found another way around this. I have seen three or four issues now where Microsoft updates and service packs for Visual Studio would fail if the prior installation was not pristine, RTM Microsoft.    I've seen updates to VS that failed when an early AJAX toolkit installation was installed that worked if I first backed up and uninstalled the library, updates that failed if a 3rd-party control library was installed, and updates that failed if another vendor had hooked into Visual Studio components (like Borland/Embarcadero's Delphi does).

In this case, I first uninstalled VS2010 and then uninstalled Delphi 2010 and its Prism component which leverages VS2008. After that, I was able to reinstall VS2010 with no further issues.

Microsoft seems to be encouraging an ecosystem around Visual Studio similarly to the way one has sprung up around Eclipse. But Microsoft's installs do not play well with anything else being installed into VS - in this case even though the "interloper" was installed in the prior VS2008 version.    (The same thing happened with a VS2008 install even though a 3rd-party had hooked into VS2005).

Thank you for your efforts, though.
Posted by Microsoft on 4/26/2010 at 4:01 PM
What values do you have for HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\MS-XHelp\shell\open\command and HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\MS-XHelp\shell\open\ddeexec\ifexec ?

I have attached the ms-xhelp protocol keys from a clean install of Dev10 RTM for you to compare with.

Does the file referenced in the command key exist? This is what the ms-xhelp protocol uses. Also verify when you see the failure that HelpLibAgent.exe is not running but stuck in a hung state and unresponsive.

The environment you described is as expected. You should not have an AgentPort key or anything under v3.0. Help is now under %program files%\Microsoft Help Viewer\v1.0

Posted by Microsoft on 4/18/2010 at 10:28 PM

Thank you for your feedback, We are currently reviewing the issue you have submitted. If this issue is urgent, please contact support directly(http://support.microsoft.com)
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Posted by hzwuj on 5/10/2010 at 2:44 AM
You should Run Registry Edit,Check The User Permission Of HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT,if no user have permission,then you should Set current user Full Access Permission.then use Visula Studio 2010 install programe to repair this issue.

sorry for my poor english
Posted by Bob Riddle on 4/20/2010 at 8:26 AM
I had seen issues in the past where other applications or extensions were hooking into Visual Studio and, when such other applictions were present, Visual Studio updates did not properly apply. I had seen that with early versions of the AJAX toolkit and with various .Net variants of Delphi.

I've even seen the same type problems with a particular Visual Studio security update when an old version of SQL Server BIDS's (Business Intelligence Dev Studio) was already installed before trying to load some new VS security update. The VS2008 update installer would only partially install; saying that something was already installed when it saw pieces of the partial VS2005 VS installed with BIDS. Yet VS2008 would subsequently fail saying the same component was NOT installed.

In those cases, removing all external users of VS seemed to clear things up.

So uninstalled first VS2010 and then uninstalled the Embarcadero RAD Studio 2010 (Delphi 2010 and CBuilder 2010) which was running on that box in conjunction with VS2008. Then I re-installed VS2010. This time it went in correctly and I now have access to Help and local documentation.

Having seen this same kind of issue 4 times now with multiple different "interfering" other programs integrated with VS, it seems like Microsoft has encouraged or allowed 3rd-parties to leverage Visual Studio as an eco-system similar to what has been done with Eclipse. But apparently the VS installers cannot always cope with finding "foreign" classes, templates, extensions, or partial installs.

I encourage anyone else seeing this error to think carefully about whatever they have installed which works with Visual Studio.
File Name Submitted By Submitted On File Size  
ms-xhelp-keys.reg 4/26/2010 1 KB