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Opening Windows Vista Files with Online Help

By Andy Rathbone

Sometimes Windows Vista cannot open a file because the needed software is not on your PC. Microsoft offers a Web service to help you out when Vista cannot open a file.

It’s frustrating when several programs fight to open your file. But it’s even worse when no program ponies up to the task. Double-clicking your file merely summons the cryptic error message shown in the following figure.

Sometimes Windows refuses to open a file.

Sometimes Windows refuses to open a file.

If you already know the program needed to open your file, choose the second option: Select a Program from a List of Installed Programs.

But if you have no idea which program should open your mystery file, choose the Use the Web Service to Find the Correct Program option and click OK.

Windows dashes off to the Internet in search of the right program. If you’re lucky, Internet Explorer displays a Microsoft Web site. There, Microsoft identifies your file, describes its contents, and suggests a Web site for downloading a capable program. Visit the Web site Microsoft suggests, download and install the program (after scanning it with a virus-checking program), and you’ve solved the problem.

Sometimes Microsoft routes you directly to a Web site, as shown in the following figure, where you can download a program that opens the file.

Find a program for opening an orphaned file.

Find a program for opening an orphaned file.