The Visual Studio 11 (VS 2012) Help Viewer is pretty cool and you can use it to view your own catalogs if you register them first.
Note that Windows 8 help uses a different proprietary viewer. We have no details on using that viewer.
Use the /? or /help command line argument to see all command line arguments.
Require parameter. HlpViewer.exe can only view catalogs that are registered under a catalog name (see Catalogs).
Optional. A catalog can contain one or more locales (language versions of a help catalog). If you omit this parameter the closest help locale will be loaded.
Also, looking at the help source, if arg = "Microsoft,VisualStudio,11.0" then hlpViewer starts MS sqmRecorder.
Optional. Currently only used by Microsoft Visual Studio to help populate the Manage Content tab according to the edition of Visual Studio. (eg Ultimate = 3000; Express = 1000 etc ).
Optional. Open Help Viewer at the Manage Content tab.
Optional. Run a help query. For example open a topic via F1 keyword. This is what VS uses when your press F1 help. See below for more info.
Optional. A tie-breaker. Vendor name is defined at merge time in the .msha manifest file. eg. /Vendor Microsoft
Optional. A tie-breaker. Product name is defined in a topic by meta tag MICROSOFT.HELP.PRODUCT.
See example "Creating a Catalog" in Catalogs
If you press F1 in VS 11 then use Windows 7 Task manager to view the command line arguments used to open HlpViewer.exe you will see something like this:
Switches are covered above. Here are some examples of the /helpQuery argument:
The help query may also contain: