Run Firefox 1.x in Windows 95 and Windows 98 original release

Much of this applies to other Mozilla applications like Thunderbird as well.

FIREFOX NOTE: This does not apply to Firefox 2.0, which drops support for Windows 95 or Firefox 3.0 which drops support for Windows 95, 98 and Me. As there is no longer an up to date version of Firefox for Windows 95, I recommend upgrading to at least Windows 98 SE on machines that will take it. Or a lightweight Linux distro.

MICROSOFT LINKS NOTE (August 29, 2007): Microsoft recently removed most of the Windows 95, 98 and Me documents from their website so some of the links below no longer work. Please do not ask me where to get the downloads as I do not know. If you find a direct link for the download of one of the missing components from Microsoft, please let me know.

MICROSOFT LINKS NOTE2 (May 10, 2017): By request, I added in direct links to archive.org mirrors of the required files where available.

Despite installer issues, Firefox actually does work well when running under Windows 95, which is good news for people still running an operating system that Microsoft no longer supports.

Installation Instructions

There are a couple tricks to getting it to work. Here are step-by-step instructions for getting things working:

  1. Update your Common Controls Library using 50comupd.exe from Microsoft [archive.org direct link]
  2. (Win95 Only) Install the Dial-Up Networking 1.4 Upgrade [archive.org direct link]
  3. (Win95 Only) Apply the Winsock 2 Update for Windows 95 [archive.org direct link]
  4. Apply the Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM) Update for Windows 95 [archive.org direct link] or for Windows 98
  5. Apply the Microsoft Libraries Update for Windows 95 [archive.org direct link] or for Windows 98. (You will need to reboot once this is installed)
  6. Now download a standard Firefox installer.
  7. Run Firefox Setup 1.5.x.x.exe and install as normal.
  8. Once you get to the point where Firefox launches for the first time, an error -- "This application has performed an illegal operation" -- will occur as Firefox attempts to start its Import functionality (which does not work in Windows 95). Just click close.
  9. Reboot your PC to return your operating system to a stable state
  10. Now, launch Firefox again using your Start Menu shortcut and all should be well!

Optionally, you could also do the following, which may improve things a bit on your PC:

  1. Install Internet Explorer 5.5 SP2 (the last version of IE for Windows 95) - This gives you access to Windows Update and fixes bugs in a number of shared libraries that will make Windows 95 perform better.
  2. Install the Y2K update for Windows 95 or for Windows 98 (Update 1 and Update 2)
  3. Run Windows Update and apply all outstanding patches

Getting the Mouse Scroll Wheel Working

You may find that your scroll wheel doesn't work with Firefox, even though it works in other programs. Sometimes, scroll wheels don't work at all in Windows 95. The best bet to try to get things working is to install the latest drivers provided by your mouse's manufactrurer (check their website). They should get things up and running in Windows 95 for you. You *may* be able to get it working by using Microsoft's Intellipoint software, though. Keep in mind... this is a bit of a hack... and could make your mouse stop working... but here's what you do:

  1. Head to the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Download page.
  2. For product, select Wheel Mouse
  3. For Operating System, select Windows 95
  4. For language, select your OS language
  5. Click GO
  6. Download the file to your computer and then run it to install
  7. During install, if it asks which mouse you are using, select Wheel Mouse again
  8. Reboot when prompted
  9. Your mouse should now scroll in Firefox

Fixing the Window Icon

Firefox 1.5 Update: This appears to be unnecessary on newer versions of Mozilla Firefox, but you can still follow the Optional directions to enable font smoothing and rich color icons.

By default, Firefox in Windows 95, 98 and Me will use a standard Microsoft Windows icon for its window icon when running. To fix this, do the following:

  1. (Optional) Set icons to use 256 colors:
    1. Right-click on your desktop and select Properties
    2. Select the Plus! tab (Effects tab in Windows 98/Me)
    3. Check off "Show icons using all possible colors" (and "Smooth edges of screen fonts" if you'd like) and click OK
    4. If they weren't already checked, you'll probably have to reboot Windows
  2. Head to C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\Chrome and create a subdirectory called icons
  3. Within this new icons directory, create a directory called default
  4. Download this main-window.ico file and save it to the default directory you just created
  5. (Optional) Download this same icon as bookmark-window.ico and jsconsoleWindow.ico to use this as your icon for these Firefox windows as well.
  6. Restart Firefox for these changes to take effect.

Uninstalling

UPDATE (Aug 16, 2006): Mozilla is aware of this issue and has made a stand-alone uninstaller available. Just download the zip file, unzip it and run UninstallFirefox.exe

Mozilla Firefox's uninstaller no longer appears to work under Windows 95. You can still manually uninstall it if you wish to. To do this:

  1. Delete the folder C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox to remove the application
  2. Delete the folder C:\Windows\Mozilla\Firefox to remove your Firefox data (and C:\Windows\Mozilla as well if you don't use any other Mozilla products on your PC)
  3. Download remove_firefox_keys_win95.reg to your desktop and double-click it to remove the Firefox registry entries from the Software hive and the Uninstall list
  4. Launch Internet Explorer (or another browser) and set it to be the default browser, allowing you to click on HTML files, links, etc again

Considerations

It is important to keep in mind that Firefox does not officially support Windows 95, so bug reports should not be sent back to Mozilla. Please do not contact me for assistance in setting up Firefox on a Windows 95 system. The above represents the full extent of the advice I can offer you. Suggestions for improving these instructions are welcome.

Acknowledgements

Some of the information on fixing the Firefox window icon was taken from Andrew T's posting in this forum topic. Some of the information for updating the libraries was taken from this forum topic. Also, thanks to Nathanael T. for pointing out that you can do the comctl32.dll update without having to install IE 5.5.