Win ME and Win 95/98/SE are now officially dead OS's as far as Microsoft are concerned.

No new patches will ever be released for any reason except the pure generosity of the capitalist system (and you know what that means!).

However - all is not lost (yet)! (I'll still be here! J)

Microsoft will still be making downloads available through both Windows Updates and the Windows Update Catalog for at least 12 months after 11th July 2006 - as of 16/03/2009, this is still the case, and MS have not indicated any intention of removing them in the near future.

How long they stay there after that depends on a number of factors, but it's best to assume that both sites will soon shut down, and you may have to source the updates individually. If this has already happened when you read this, email me to wake me up, and I'll sort something out for you!

Everything I say on this page applies equally to Win98SE and Win ME (OK - apart from the header! J), until you get to section 4 (Windows Updates), where at least you should get the general idea on how to proceed for Win 98, but ME has a few peculiarities which need to be addressed, and these are highlighted in Green

This page is hopefully going to help you survive for as long as you ever want to run Win9x on your PC (If you have to change hardware, then all bets are off, because very little new hardware is being provided with drivers for 9x even in July, 2006). I know of no new equipment which is being manufactured with Win9x drivers as of March 2009.


- make sure that your copy of Windows is FULLY UPDATED to IE6 SP1 with all patches installed NOW - keep going back to Windows Updates until you have ALL the Critical updates installed, and as many of the 'Recommended Updates' as you think you need (I'd go for the lot, personally, except maybe Windows Media Player 9).

WHAT DO I DO NOW? (Part 1)

I intend to keep using Windows 9x after July 2006, and may want to clean-install or over-install windows afterwards

1) Inventory

You need to check what software you're running, and what drivers you have for your hardware - and what patches you have installed from Windows Updates.

Install Belarc Advisor (, Run it, and SAVE THE RESULTS as a Web Archive one-page MHT file - preferably NOT on the PC, but with your backups (you *have* made backups of all your data, haven't you?? - with aging hardware, it's even more necessary than it is on a brand new machine)

This will give you a one-page listing of your basic hardware, Critical Windows Updates patches, Licence Keys for 'compliant' software (which includes Windows, Office, other MS apps, and some third-party apps), and a listing of all software that's been 'properly installed' using Windows Installer, or other 'proper' install routines

If you want more detail on any of the above or you can't get Belarc to behave, then download AIDA32 from here - unzip it to a folder, and run the AIDA32 executable in the folder - it gives an immense amount of data about hardware particularly (useful for sources of drivers, etc)
Make sure that you have the original installation disks/downloads/product keys/whatever for the third-party software you have installed


2) Windows Updates

The Critical Updates, you should already know about - but there's a lot of other updates that MS release for Windows that weren't critical - how do you find out about them?
There's the easy way.... (assuming you've ALWAYS installed Windows Updates using the Windows Updates tool

Look in the "C:\Windows\Windows Update.log" file - it holds a record of every patch that you've installed from WU since IE6SP1 was installed. Open it in Notepad (or your favourite test editor, it's a basic text file). Buried in there, you'll find a mass of URLs (web addresses) to executable files (.EXE. All the relevant addresses contain a KBxxxxxx number - make a list of these KB numbers for reference later. DO NOT sort the list - keep it in the same order that it comes in on - because this is the order that the patches should be applied in (with certain exceptions that I'll detail later). You could also make a list of the URL's themselves - but they may have changed between the time you downloaded them and the time you request them, so more on that later. - and I've done probably most of the work for you already, as you can use these files as a template for your own

I've got some demonstration files to show what I mean

  1. The basic Windows Update Log file for a system that had the Windows Security Update CD applied immediately after installation (Log #1)

  2. The basic Windows Update Log file for a system updated purely from Windows Updates today (Log #2) - note that I've deliberately installed KB290700 first, which is a MUST for ME, as it re-enables System Restore for the rest of the updates!

  3. URL's from log #1

  4. URL's from log #2 - note that I've removed the IE6SP1 URL, as it'll only confuse the issue (it's a stub, rather than the full installer); and the Auto-updates updater, 'cos it's not much use any more.

  5. KB numbers from log #1

  6. KB numbers from log #2

Note that the above logs assume that you have installed ALL the options, such as Movie Maker 2, WMP9, and IE6 - and no driver updates!

(Downloading driver updates from MS is NOT a good idea, unless you can't find them elsewhere)

Note also that if you have IE6 SP1 installed, you can ignore all updates for earlier versions of IE (more later)

Quick partial solution!

See if you can beg, borrow, or steal (or even buy! - but they were issued free of charge by MS) a copy of the Spring 2004 Windows Updates CD which MS was giving away for a while - this will bring your PC up-to-date with all security patches issued before November 2003 - then it's just a case of making a copy of that for yourself (which MS frowned on at the time, but I suspect that they won't be too worried now). I *may* be persuaded to put the disk up for download on request - mail me and ask nicely J.


3) What next?

You need to check for updates for Office programs that you have installed, and for other updates for other programs - and download them for offline install
You need also to either use AIDA 32 to discover the driver versions that are installed, or to go through Device Manager making a note of any non-MS drivers that are installed for your hardware - and source these drivers for download for offline install


4) The downloads

You now have three lists (or more?) of updates that you have to get

1) Windows Updates

2) Office/Application updates

3) Drivers

Windows Updates

First let's deal with the Windows Updates
You need to get these files downloaded AND BACKED UP as soon as you can - then it doesn't matter if MS turns off the Windows Updates/Catalog tap tomorrow - you're still protected.

FIRST - go to Windows Explorer, and create a new folder called C:\WINMEUPDATES (or whatever you want), then ....

Go to the Windows Update Catalog using a Win9x system (later ones will be redirected to a set of data that excludes win9x!!)and you'll see that it offers the downloads for Windows Operating Systems - pick that option, and you'll be offered a list of operating systems - pick your OS (presumably Win ME, since you're here), and click on the Search button

You'll get a list of updates (today I get 64 Criticals, 73 [!!] Multi-Language, and 9 Recommended - no others)

click on the Criticals in the list, and then go through the list, checking for items on your personal updates list, clicking on the Add button for any that appears on your list - for me, this amounted to 35 items. It's better to download too many than too few, so don't be too shy about clicking on the Add buttons! - make a note of which ones you've added.

Now go back, and click on the Multi-Language offerings (if you want them - I don't!), and get the ones for the version of IE you're going to be using, and the languages you want (you should already have English ones J ), and then go to the Recommended Updates and ADD THEM ALL!! (even if you don't want them now, you might want them later!)

Now click on the 'Go to Download Basket' link, and you should have all the ones you've added listed there - now go to the Browse button, click on it, and tell the Catalog to download the files to the folder you created at the start now click on Download, and you'll be asked to accept a couple of EULA's (End User Licence Agreement) before you an continue - read these agreements, and then accept them if they seem right to you (they do to me, but then I'm no lawyer), and the download will start - bear in mind that it's a fairly hefty download! (in my case ~129MB)

CHECK in the Catalog history, that all the files you requested have been properly downloaded - make a note of any that failed - three of my downloads just now failed, and have repeatedly failed for the past few weeks (despite complaints). - add those ones back on to the 'ToDo' list

You'll see that the


You'll probably be left with a substantial list of Windows Update items (the 'ToDo' list) which you couldn't find on the Windows Updates Catalog - these ones you'll have to ferret out yourself by searching for the KB Number that you noted

Note that currently, all KB articles have URL's of the format where xxxxxx is the number of the KB article (Excluding the KB bit!) - so actually finding them should be fairly easy, so long as those articles still exist. NOTE that you can ignore any 'IE Cumulative Updates' for earlier versions of IE than you intend to install, and also that the ONLY required Cumulative update for your chosen version of IE is the latest-dated one. The same applies to Outlook Express - for WU purposes, although OE comes with IE, they are considered different programs.

Again - download these files into the WINMEUPDATES folder (or your designated folder) for safe-keeping and backup

When you have them all, back up the entire folder as it stands to CD or USB stick (or whatever you backup medium is - remember there's going to be about 200-300MB here!)


Other Updates

Now for the other Updates
  This should be a lot simpler! - go to Office Updates, and get all the updates for your version of Office
  Other MS Updates - go to The MS Download Center, and follow the links to your product's home pages and updates.
  Now for the Drivers.





Copyright 2006-2009,Noel Paton

This page was last updated 18/03/2009

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