How do I reassociate Microsoft Office help files that are XML files with Office instead of my xml editor?

by on January 19, 2009

Q: I have Microsoft Office 2007 installed on a PC running Windows Vista Business SP1. Recently, while working on a website, I went into the windows control panel and associated the file extension .xml with Microsoft Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition since I wanted to use it to open .xml files for the website I was developing. However, every time I click on the help icon in any of the Microsoft Office 2007 programs (PowerPoint, Word, Excel, etc.), a file download box similar to the one in Internet Explorer comes up and asks if I want to save or open the .xml file.

If I click cancel, nothing happens and the help dialog box stays blank. If I click open, the file opens in Visual Web Developer displaying all of the .xml formatting. If I click save, the system saves a .xml file for me to open using Visual Web Developer. I am also unable to view any search results from the Office 2007 help system – the computer always offers me an .xml file to open or save to view with Visual Web Developer.

I’ve tried changing the .xml association to a different program, but that only brings up the .xml file in that different program. I tried running an administrator-level command prompt and typing:

c:/users/me/ASSOC.xml=

To clear the file association, but it doesn’t work, even after I restart the computer. The control panel won’t let me delete the file from the list of file extensions for default programs either. I’m stumped – I’ve tried everything I know of, but Windows has locked me out of my Microsoft Office 2007 help by not allowing me to change the .xml file extension. Is there any way to fix this issue?