Friday, September 02, 2016

How To Get a Working Browser after a Windows Vista Restore (or Reinstall)

I have an old Dell PC running Windows Vista Home Premium.  It had a number of "broken" things in its system, it couldn't see Windows Update anymore and I couldn't install Microsoft Security Essentials on it.  I decided to do a clean reinstall, or system reset on it.  This can be done without requiring any external back-up or restore or install media, it can be done entirely from the machine.  

This post does not tell you how to do the clean reinstall.  You can find that elsewhere.  

What this post tells you is how to finish the clean reinstall so that you have a working browser on the machine!  When I did the reinstall, Vista came up with Internet Explorer 7 installed.  IE 7 COULD NOT see Microsoft pages associated with updating IE 7!  It could not see google pages associated with downloading the Chrome browser!   

So how do you get Internet Explorer 9, the highest version that supports Windows Vista, on to a machine without a working browser?  

To do what I am describing will require you to have:
  1. The Vista machine with Vista clean installed (also known as "Reset") on it.  Find instructions on the web to get this done.  You should be able to do it completely from the Vista machine, no additional install media should be required.  
  2. Another working Windows machine connected to the Internet through a working Web Browser. 
  3. A flash drive ( or any portable USB connected drive) with at least 64 MB free space on it. 
FIRST: Let Windows Update install all the Vista updates it knows about. 

The first thing I did was let Windows Update update everything that it knew about.  This was over 100 updates when I did this in August 2016.  It took about 8 hours on my old slow Vista machine.  It required about 3 manual restarts, so check the machine once in a while while it is updating as it will hang until you approve the restarts.  I am not absolutely sure this is required before taking the next steps but it is what I did that worked so you decide whether you want to experiment or not.  

SECOND: Learn how many bits, what architecture and what Operating System your machine is.

The first thing to do is determine three things about your machine.  These three facts will be needed in choosing install packages.  These three things are:
  1. Is your machine 32-bit or 64-bit?
  2. Is your machine architecture x86 or x64?
  3. What exactly is your operating system?  Mine is Vista Home Premium.  
You can determine these by
  1. Pressing the windows button at lower left end of your screen
  2. typing "msinfo" and hitting return.  This will pop open a window.
  3. Clicking on "System Summary" in that window.  
  4. Your operating system is listed at the top under "OS Name."
  5. Your architecture is listed further down under "System Type."
  6. If your architecture is "x64" then you have a 64-bit machine.  If your architecture is "x86" then you have a 32-bit machine.
  7. Keep these three facts handy, write them on a piece of paper which you can refer to as you do the rest of this.  
THIRD: Get a Google Chrome version 49 installer from your other machine.

To get a working browser on your Vista machine, you will download an installer for Chrome version 49 onto a flash drive connected to another PC with a working browser and internet connection.  I took my copy from  You may find a copy elsewhere on the web, but I am told that some copies are infected with viruses.  I have had no problems with the copy I took, so you decide.  

From that page, right click on the version 49 download link for your machine and save it to your flash drive.  

Then attach your flash drive to your Vista machine and double click the installer on your flash drive.  Choose to install it to someplace on your C: drive on your vista machine.  You can then run Chrome browser by double-clicking on the Chrome app you installed.  You can put a shortcut to that on your desktop.  

FOURTH: Manually Install Vista Service Pack 1

You can find the installer for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 here:  It takes an hour or two to install.  

FIFTH: Manually Install 3 Other Required Updates.  

This page: tells us that there are three other updates that need to be installed manually before IE 9.  They are:
  1. Vista Service Pack 2
  2. the Windows Graphics, Imaging, and XPS Library (KB971512)
  3. Platform update supplement for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 (KB2117917)
They need to be installed in that order.  The page referenced has links to follow for the installers for each of these updates.  Service Pack 2 will take 1 to 2 hours to install, the others are faster than that.  

FIFTH: Install Internet Explorer 9

Windows Internet Explorer 9 installer for Vista is here:  

If you have installed all the updates above, you should find that this install will work.  


Microsoft stopped supporting Windows Vista in early 2016.  The instructions above worked on my Dell laptop in August of 2016.  Without official support, the information above took me many hours to sort out.  There is no guarantee that these instructions will continue to work as without support who knows what entropy will do to the web pages I used to get this done.  Good luck!