When Adobe notifies me that a Flash Player update is available, I click 'Download'. Adobe starts Internet Explorer; I choose Update Now; it says 'Initializing'; then it sits there offering me 'Click for Help'. The File Download dialog box never appears, so no process is trying to start. Windows Vista.
Bypass the downloader/installer:
Download the following files by right clicking and selecting "Save target as".
Save ALL files to your Downloads folder - DO NOT RUN anything yet.
Reboot your system.
BEFORE opening anything else, go to your Downloads folder and run the UNINSTALLER to remove Flash Player.
Next, run the ActiveX Installer.
Once it's installed, see:Enabling Flash Player in Internet Explorer and: ActiveX Filtering in Internet Explorer to make 100% sure that Flash Player is enabled and NOT being blocked by ActiveX controls.