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Lately we have been receiving many help requests from people who have their Windows Vista in one language and would like to switch to another one. For example, people who traveled to Canada and bought from there a laptop with Windows Vista in French and would like to switch to English, or the other way around. I've done a little bit of digging and testing on this topic and I managed to find a few solutions which might help you to switch your Windows Vista interface to any language you want to.
What version of Windows Vista you have installed on your PC?
There are two possible scenarios:
Solution for Windows Vista Ultimate or Enterprise Edition
In order to show you all the steps, I will use a PC with Windows Vista Ultimate in English and I will switch the language of the interface to French. First, start Windows Update and check for the latest updates. The updates are split into a few categories. Go to the 'Windows Vista Ultimate Language Packs' section, select the language you need and click on Install.
Windows Update will start downloading the language pack that you have selected. Wait until it finishes.
Once downloaded, the installation process will start. When this happens, you will see a window like the one below.
When finished, you need to switch to the new language. Go to Control Panel. Under 'Clock, Language and Region', select 'Change display language'.
If you use the Classic version of the Control Panel go to 'Regional and Language Options'. Next, click on the 'Keyboard and Languages' tab.
In this tab you will see a drop-down list like the one below, where you can select the display language. Select the new language and click OK.
In order for the new language to be applied to the Windows Vista interface, you will be asked to log off. Close all your opened programs and click on 'Log off now'.
Once you log back in, you will notice that Windows Vista will be displayed in the language you selected. In our case, it is now French.
Solution for Windows Vista Home (Basic and Premium) or Business Edition
NOTE: this solution is provided as-is, with no warranties.
First, you need to download an application called 'Windows Vista Multi-Language Package Installation Tools', version 2.55. This will be used to apply the new language to your Windows Vista. The download link can be found at the bottom of this article.
Second, you need to download the language pack for the language you want to have. If you have a 32 bit edition of Windows Vista Service Pack 1, go to this page and download the language you need. For 64 bit, go here.
Now that you have downloaded both files, you are ready to start.
The tool that will apply the language you need is a little buggy. In order to avoid any issues, create a folder on any of your partitions. The tool did not work on my PC when I used long paths and folder names so it might not work on your PC either. Keep the name of the folder up to 8 characters without any spaces. In that folder extract the archive with the tool and copy your language pack. You folder should now have a sub-folder called VistaMuiTools and an '.exe' file with the language pack that you will install.
Open the VistaMuiTools folder and select Windows Vista MUI Tools v2.55 x86.exe if you have a 32bit version of Windows Vista and Windows Vista MUI Tools v2.55 x64.exe if you have a 64bit version. The file needs to be run using administrative permissions so make sure you right click on it and select Run as administrator.
When you see the 'Windows Vista Multi-Language Package Installation Tools' window, click on the Install button from 'Method 1'.
You are now being asked to choose the input file of the language pack. Browse to the folder you just created and select the '.exe' file of the language pack.
Then, you will be asked to provide the name of the output file which will be generated by the tool and used to apply the new language. Select the same folder and leave the default file name.
Once you have done this, the tool will start processing.
When finished, you will be informed of the success or failure of the operation.
In order to apply the language pack, you will be asked to select the file that was just generated. Navigate to the folder you created and select the file with the '.cab' extension which was generated by the tool.
You will receive a pop-up with an information message. There is no need to click on it.
Once the message disappears, you will need to wait for a few minutes. Unfortunately you will not see any activity indicator. You just need to wait for a few minutes. From 5 up to 60, depending on your configuration. However, on any mainstream PC it should not take more than 15 minutes for the procedure to finish. Once the process is finished, you will receive a notification message informing you of the installation status.
You will be asked if you want to remove the temporary files or not. In order to save space, click on Yes.
The tool will be inactive for a minute or two until it deletes the temporary files. Once finished you will be notified.
When done, go back to the 'Windows Vista Multi-Language Package Installation Tools' window and from the display language drop-down list select the language you have installed and then click on Apply. If you select another language it will not work.
After you have finished the procedure, reboot your PC, log in and the Windows Vista interface should be in the newly selected language.
Unfortunately the tool used for this tutorial is not very stable and the procedure might fail. If you manage to find other ways to apply a new language to Windows Vista, please share it with us. We will be more than happy to test & share your solution with our readers.
Windows Vista SP1 32-Bit MUI Language Packs Direct Download Links
64-bit Windows Vista SP1 MUI Language Packs Direct Download Links
Windows Vista MUI Language Packs (for x86 and x64) Direct Download Link