Windows XP or Windows Vista to Windows 10 RS1 Free Upgrade

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The Free Upgrade Path expired on the 2nd of October 2015. With some trickery one could change the date and continue to activate Windows 10130 Insider Preview to use as a stepping stone to Windows 10 Pro. On the 26th of August 2016 Microsoft patched their Product Activation Servers. Consequently the Windows 10130 Insider Preview Path cannot be activated, terminating this Free Upgrade path.

Note: If you have already made your system a Windows 10 Pro Device using the Windows 10130 path it’ll continue to work.

I am Still Running Windows Vista Are There Any Free Upgrade Paths?

The only other Free Upgrade Path is for so called Late Windows Vista OEM systems (including late Windows Vista Business OEM systems preinstalled with Windows XP Pro OEM) and involves the use of Windows 7 OEM. Windows 7 OEM was a Free Upgrade for Late Windows Vista OEM systems. Microsoft marketed Windows 7 OEM as a “Free Upgrade" to Windows Vista OEM if the system was sold 6 months before the release of Windows 7 OEM. Windows 7 OEM was released on the 22/07/2009. Most of the links detailing this free upgrade program are broken as its long obsolete but an outline is available here. I will explain it in more detail.

This “6 months" is just a rough guide. In reality it is the hardware which dictates the ability to perform the Free Upgrade from Windows Vista OEM to Windows 7 OEM… Lets take the Dell OptiPlex 760 system which was released by Dell on the 29th of October 2008. It may have been sold any time from November 2009 to December 2009. This makes the vast majority of these models sold in the 6 months before the release of Windows 7 OEM (Microsoft’s marketing Window). Irregardless of the precise point of sale, Dell the OEM classify them as the same model and they have the same BIOS update making them eligible to run Windows 7 Pro OEM. The latest BIOS update for the OptiPlex 760 Updates the System License Internal Code SLIC from 2.0 to 2.1 making the system eligible for Windows 7 OEM System Locked Preinstallation SLP. A Clean Install of Windows 7 can be performed on such a system, activated with OEM SLP and then an in place upgrade used to make the system a Windows 10 Edition Device.

You should update your BIOS to the latest version available then check the OEM SLIC version using RW-Everything as instructed below.

The following Legacy BIOS Updates for Dell systems shipped with Windows Vista OEM are likely to apply SLIC version 2.1 however as I do not have all these models to hand so even if your model is listed here I recommend carrying out the check with RW-Everything:

Adamo Desktops

Dimension Desktops

Inspiron Desktops

Inspiron Laptops

Latitude Laptops

OptiPlex Desktops

Precision Desktops

Precision Laptops

Studio Desktops

Studio Laptops

Vostro Desktops

Vostro Laptops

XPS Desktops

To know whether your Legacy BIOS has a SLIC version of 2.1 we need to use a program called RW-Everything to gather more information about your hardware.

Lets look at the OptiPlex 760 again. First lets look at the basic system information using msinfo32. I will look at an OptiPlex 760 with a Legacy BIOS downgraded to version A00.

Press [Windows] and [ r ] to bring up the run command:


In the run box type in


Then press ok. As you can see the BIOS Version is A00 and is just before the release of Windows 7.


Next to determine if your system has a SLIC and the version of the SLIC if it has one, launch RW-Everything and select Access → ACPI Tables:


Select the SLIC Tab and scroll down until you get to your SLIC marker structure. Look at the OEM ID in this case Dell and also look at the SLIC version. In this case the SLIC version is at 2.0 meaning its only eligible to run Windows Vista OEM and not Windows 7 OEM. This BIOS version was out just before Windows 7 OEM was released:


After applying the latest Legacy BIOS update in this case version A16 the date of the BIOS update is long after the release of Windows 7. The date of the BIOS update on its own however isn’t a good indicator as Early Windows Vista systems may have BIOS updates released after the launch of Windows 7 without any update in SLIC version:


For the OptiPlex 760 with BIOS version A16 the SLIC version however is now updated to version 2.1 meaning its now eligible to run Windows 7 OEM:


Note RW-Everything doesn’t state the Edition of Windows 7 to be installed. In testing the SLIC seems not to be Edition specific so from a technical viewpoint it doesn’t matter too much. To be licensed correctly you should however match the Windows 7 Install to the Edition on the Windows Vista COA. Doing so means you are essentially installing the correct Edition of Windows 7 which you got when you took advantage of the initial Free Upgrade to Windows 7 during Microsoft’s marketing period at the launch of Windows 7. If you didn’t take advantage of this free upgrade during the time it doesn’t matter because the system with a SLIC version of 2.1 is eligible for Windows 7 OEM and will activate automatically without a Product Key using Dell OEM SLP.

In the case of my OptiPlex 760 it has a Windows Vista Business OEM COA so its Free Upgrade would have been Windows 7 Pro OEM which in turn has a Free Upgrade to Windows 10 Pro OEM…


If you have a SLIC version of 2.1. You will need to:

* Ignore the prompts in my guides to update the installation media, slipstream drivers etc etc. The Windows 7 SP1 installation media will install fine on an early Windows Vista system and have native driver support in the vast majority of cases. A Windows 10 in place upgrade can occur from a virgin Windows 7 SP1 Clean Installation.

Note for the Free Windows 10 Upgrade Microsoft will verify the SLP key and SLIC of the BIOS are eligible for Windows 7 OEM and if they are give the green light for Product Activation. The system profile of the motherboard will then be stored with a Microsoft Product Activation Server during the initial Upgrade Installation (essentially the series of numbers you see in the RW-Everything).

Expired 10130 Insider Preview Upgrade Path

This guide reached 160,000 views before the 26th of August 2016… meaning a significant number of Windows Vista OEM machines were made Windows 10 Pro Devices using this route. This Unofficial Free Upgrade Path allowed new Windows 10 Pro Activations for a Period of 1 Year Unofficially aligning with Microsoft’s initial official marketing for Free Upgrades from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

You will get the following error message:

“Error 0x80072F8F On a computer running Microsoft Windows non-core edition, run ‘slui.exe 0x2a 0x80072F8F’ to display the error text.”

10130 End

You will not be able to register a Windows Vista or Windows XP system via the 10130 Insider Preview with a Microsoft Product Activation server to make it a new Windows 10 Pro Device without buying a key.


This guide has complimentary tutorial videos.

Introduction – Why Consider Upgrading?

This is a Dell based guide but will work on non-Dell systems also. The only differences are the keys [F2] and [F12] to enter the BIOS setup and opt for the one-time Boot menu may be different. You should also check for BIOS updates from your perspective OEMs website.

01 August 2016 OS Marketshare 1 in 100 computers run Windows Vista and 10 in 100 computers run Windows XP… While Microsoft hasn’t formally extended the Free Windows 10 Upgrade to these Operating Systems unofficially they allow an unofficial free upgrade via the Windows 10130 Insider Preview…

End of OS Support

  • 11 Apr 2017: Windows Vista will reach End of Life (<1 year away) and no security patches will be released since. See here for more details. Windows 10 performs significantly better than Windows Vista and is significantly more secure.
  • 08 Apr 2014: Windows XP reached End of Life (>2 years ago) and no security patches have been released since. See here for more details. Windows 10 performs significantly better than Windows XP if the hardware meets minimum requirements and is significantly more secure.

End of Browser Support

  • 12 Jan 2016: Support for all versions of Internet Explorer except for Internet Explorer 11. See here for more details.
  • 01 May 2016: Google have just dropped support for Windows Vista and Windows XP.

When Chrome is launched a yellow warning will display stating:

“This computer will no longer receive Google Chrome Updates because Windows XP and Windows Vista are no longer supported.” Learn more.

Chrome Message

This means that the continued use of Google Chrome and these Operating Systems in general should be considered insecure. It hasn’t happened currently however eventually websites may block out of date versions of Chrome and Internet Explorer 9.

This gives a primary security exploit…

Bank Robber

Needless to say don’t use an unsupported browser (i.e. anything running on a Windows Vista or Windows XP Operating System) for:

  • Online Banking
  • Paypal
  • eBay
  • Amazon

etc. etc.

End of Driver Support

No new drivers will be created for new peripherals (e.g. that new printer) for these legacy Operating Systems.

The Unofficial Free Upgrade Path

Microsoft did not provide an Official Free Upgrade Path for Windows XP or Windows Vista to Windows 10 RS1.

Disclaimer: This is an Unofficial Upgrade path and has no support from Dell or Microsoft. However any system shipped with Windows XP or Windows Vista won’t have any official support anyway as the warranty has long expired… and both Operating Systems are more or less at End of Life.

untitled1 (1)

The Windows Insider Build 10130 was the last Windows Insider Build to utilise a generic product key for Microsoft Product Activation. With this build Microsoft let all Windows Insiders Upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free. This upgrade path can be used to upgrade any legacy system that satisfies Windows 10’s minimum system requirements. I focus primarily on systems shipped with Windows Vista OEM and secondary with systems shipped with Windows XP OEM. This guide can also be used on VMs as discussed here.

Microsoft may stop Activation of Windows 10130 Insider Preview at any point in time which would effectively shut down this unofficial upgrade path for good. In testing this Unofficial Upgrade path works 10 months after the expiry date of build 10130, moreover it works with RS1 installation media which was released 10 months after the expiry date on Windows 10 Insider Build 10130.

I have last tested this on the 10/08/2016 on a VM. I have made a YouTube recording on the 03/08/2016.

Before upgrading its recommended that your BIOS revision is up to date. This guide will result in Data loss so its recommended you back up all your data to an external hard drive. If you are sceptical about this upgrade path or unsure how well your legacy system will run Windows 10 make sure you’ve made an Macrium Reflect Backup so you can revert to Windows Vista.

Gathering Details about your System

Press [Windows] and [ r ] and type in msinfo32 and press [Enter]. Top images are for Windows XP and bottom Windows Vista.

msinfo32 xp a


You will be told the following (I will give some notes below):

msinfo32 xp b


As the Processor information for Windows XP is a bit cryptic you may also want to right click the start button and right click My Computer and select Properties:

system xp c

This will give you the model of your processor and installed physical memory (RAM):

system xp d

OS Name and Version

This doesn’t matter too much in this guide as you are going to use the Windows 10130 Insider Preview as your base Windows OS. This will give you Windows 10 Pro as a Free Upgrade in all cases.

System Model and System Manufacturer

Its important to know both your system manufacturer and system model. This information may be required when checking to see if you need to update your system BIOS or in the rare cases need to look for drivers later. If commenting on a successful install please include this information.

SMBIOS version

Take a note of the SMBIOS version.

Systems with an SMBIOS of 2.3 (Early Windows XP) or earlier are not Windows Vista/7/8.x or 10 compatible. This likely includes yucky hardware such as a Pentium 4 or worse, DDR RAM or worse, a IDE HDD or worse and Intel 915GM graphics or worse. All which belong in a museum.

This guide mainly focuses on systems with an SMBIOS version of 2.4 (Early Windows Vista systems) or 2.5 (Late Windows Vista systems).

  • Earlier Windows Vista systems like the Latitude D820 shown may have a processor with a 32 Bit instruction set only. This systems processor was upgraded from an Intel T2600 which has a 32 Bit instruction set to an Intel T7200 which has a 64 Bit instruction set. 64 Bit Windows can only run on a processor with a 64 Bit instruction set but 32 Bit Windows can run on either. Hint if you have an Intel Processor search for the “Intel Ark Processor #” e.g. “Intel Ark T7200”.
  • Late Windows Vista systems should all be Windows 10 64 Bit compatible.

Note for systems with an SMBIOS of 2.6 you likely have a Windows 7 OEM COA and can carry out the Official Upgrade Path unless the COA is faded. The OptiPlex 390 shown as an example is utilising OEM downgrades from Windows 7 Professional to Windows XP Professional.

This guide does not support systems with a UEFI BIOS (version 2.7 or later) which should have a Windows 8.x/10 UEFI BIOS OEM SLP key or Windows 7 OEM COA and be eligible for the Official Upgrade Path. These systems may also have newer hardware unsupported by the 10130 .iso. See Download a Windows 10 OEM and Retail .iso for the Official Upgrade Path.

BIOS Version

The BIOS should be updated to the latest version available before upgrading to Windows 10 as the BIOS updater may not run correctly on Windows 10. For convenience I will list the latest BIOS Update for all Dell systems (except Alienware) that were sold during the sales period of Windows Vista as well as the date of the system model. If using a non-Dell check with your system manufacturer’s driver and downloads page.

Adamo Desktops

Dimension Desktops

Inspiron Desktops

Inspiron Laptops

Latitude Laptops

OptiPlex Desktops

Precision Desktops

Precision Laptops

Studio Desktops

Studio Laptops

Vostro Desktops

Vostro Laptops

XPS Desktops

XPS Laptops

Installing the Latest BIOS Update

The BIOS update is a firmware update. This type of update updates the firmware for your system BIOS. You launch the BIOS update within Windows but the computer restarts and updates the BIOS within BIOS. Therefore once a BIOS update is applied it remains applied even if Windows is reinstalled.

Note An incorrect BIOS update has the potential to kill your computer entirely.

Before updating the BIOS its advisable to make sure all programs are closed.

For Windows XP double click the BIOS Update. For Windows Vista right click the BIOS update and select run as an administrator.


For Windows Vista you’ll need to accept the User Account Control prompt:


The BIOS update will then launch and tell you what revision you have and what revision the BIOS flash is.

If you are up to date or equal to the BIOS revision or its unsupported as in the case of my XPS 8300 it will tell you and will not allow you to flash only giving you the option to quit:


If its supported it will allow you to select continue:


Click ok


The computer will then restart and restart the BIOS update.

vlcsnap-2016-08-18-23h08m09s721 vlcsnap-2016-08-18-23h08m13s629 vlcsnap-2016-08-18-23h08m18s746 vlcsnap-2016-08-18-23h08m35s991

vlcsnap-2016-08-18-23h16m07s096 vlcsnap-2016-08-18-23h15m58s283

DO NOT DISTURB THE COMPUTER DURING THIS TIME and certainly do not cut power. If you do then likely you will kill the computer entirely.

Once the computer loads into Windows some of the BIOS updates will re-launch automatically but then will tell you that you have the latest version already so just click cancel. You may then delete the BIOS update from the Desktop.

Some BIOS updates may require perquisite BIOS updates as mentioned. Try to update the BIOS in the least number of steps.

You can then recheck msinfo32 to see if the BIOS update has applied correctly:


Additional Notes on Systems Shipped with Windows XP/Vista OEM Licenses

Officially there is no free upgrade from genuine Windows Vista or Windows XP to genuine Windows 10 so we will need to utilise the Unofficial Windows 10130 Upgrade path in all these cases.

Can My Hardware Run Windows 10?

All of the systems listed with SMBIOS 2.5 can run Windows 10 64 Bit without any issues providing enough RAM is installed (4 GB preferred) and the necessary processor technologies should be enabled by default you can proceed directly to Download Links and Prepaing a Windows 10 Bootable USB.

Systems with an SMBIOS of 2.4 may be limited by a processor with a 32 Bit set and thus stuck on Windows 10 32 Bit. Systems with an SMBIOS of 2.4 may need the PAE, NX or SSE2 settings enabled in the Legacy BIOS setup in order to install Windows 10. This will be discussed below.

If you aren’t sure whether your legacy hardware with an SMBIOS of 2.4 running Windows XP/Vista is Windows 10 capable or whether you need to enable PAE, NX or SSE2 run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant which is the last Upgrade Assistant than runs on XP and Vista. The system requirements are almost identical for 32 Bit Windows 8.1 and 32 Bit Windows 10. The Upgrade Assistant can be found here:!721&authkey=!AOhXrY_SIbN59Ac&ithint=folder%2cexe (Removed by Microsoft 16/03/2016 as Windows 8 is at End of Life)

Simply run the upgrade assistant:


It will scan your computer to determine whether its compatible:


Click see compatibility details:


The compatibility details may show some of the following details to review:


You are looking for it to state issues specifically about your hardware.

The 4 issues it lists in this case aren’t significant:

  • Install an App to play a DVD. – No problem install VLC player after Windows 10 RS1 installation.
  • SecureBoot isn’t compatible with your PC. – No problem Windows 10 can run in a legacy BIOS using the MBR partition scheme. It won’t perform as well and will be less secure than a newer system with these technologies.
  • Sidebar Gadgets aren’t supported. – No problem, few people use these and the Apps in the Windows 10 Store are far superior.
  • Your screen resolution isn’t compatible with snap. – No problem the screen resolution for Windows 10 was lowered to support 800×600 as a minimum.

A fifth common problem that the tool often reports is that mandatory processor security technologies PAE, NX, and SSE2 aren’t present or disabled in the BIOS setup. If you do not have an error message mentioning PAE, NX or SSE2 continue directly to Download Links and Prepaing a Windows 10 Bootable USB.

To Enter your Legacy BIOS setup. Power down your computer. Wait 10 seconds and power it up. Press [F2] at the Dell BIOS Screen. Other OEMs may use a different function key or [Esc].

1. Dell BIOS

This will take you to the BIOS setup. Your BIOS setup may look slightly different to mine but the procedure should be similar. Read the instructions at the bottom of the BIOS setup for instructions.

I will press the [↓] key until I get to Security:


Then I will press [Enter] to expand the Security category:

vlcsnap-2016-01-30-23h34m52s628 vlcsnap-2016-01-30-23h34m58s166

Now I am going to look for processor or CPU related Security fields. In my case I have the field CPU No-eXecute Support so I will highlight that field and press [Enter].


Then I will make sure that CPU No-eXecute support is enabled:


Then I will press [Esc] to Exit the BIOS setup:


Then opt to Exit the BIOS setup.


These may also be mapped to different keys, some BIOS will have [Esc] as the key to exit the BIOS setup discarding changes and the [F10] as the button to exit the BIOS setup but saving changes. As I said read the instructions on your screen to confirm.

If you have had to enable these security technologies boot into Windows XP or Windows Vista and rerun the upgrade advisor. Make sure it doesn’t have the same error message about PAE, NX or SSE2.

Download Links and Preparing a Windows 10 Bootable USB

You will need 2×8 GB USB flash drives for this step.

On the first one you will need to prepare a Windows 10130 Bootable USB and on the second one you will need to prepare a Windows 10 RS1 (Build 14393/version 1607) Bootable USB.

Because you are performing an upgrade install you cannot cross architectures. Use the 32 Bit 10130 .iso with the 32 Bit 14393 .iso alternatively the 64 Bit 10130 .iso with the 64 Bit 14393 .iso.

10130 Insider Preview .iso

As the Insider Preview has expired Microsoft have removed it from their server. It may be found in the following unofficial download location:

both x86 and x64

The file sizes for the 10130 Insider Preview .iso are as follows:

10130 sizes

It doesn’t matter that is English US only as its only going to be used as an intermediate stepping stone.

Since the 10130 .iso is Downloaded from an unofficial source I recommend however installing the latest version of 7-zip and checking the CRC SHA. Once 7-zip is installed, simply right click the .iso and select CRC SHA and then select the *:


This will give you the various checksums and they should match the checksums below.

If they are different you will have an incomplete/corrupt download.

10130 x86 10130 x64

14393 RS1 .iso

The Download Link for Windows 10 RS1 is here:

As Windows XP/Vista aren’t supported with the Windows 10 RS1 Media Creation Tool Direct Links will be shown.

Once on this page scroll down:

Use of Techbench

Select Windows 10 as the Edition. Do not select Windows 10N or Windows 10 Home Single Language.

Wait for the .iso to Download.


One will also need to Download Rufus to make the Bootable USBs:

Rufus does not need to be installed and can be run directly by double clicking on the application.


If on Vista or later accept the User Account Control Prompt:


Don’t bother checking for updates as you likely already have the latest version:


Load the .iso:


For the 1st USB select the 10130 .iso. When you repeat the procedure for the 2nd USB select the RS1 (Build 14393/version 1607) .iso.


Ensure your USB is shown here:


Since its assumed you’re using a computer shipped with Late Windows XP, Windows Vista or Early Windows 7 you won’t have a UEFI BIOS. Ensure you are using the MBR partition scheme for (Legacy) BIOS.


Ensure the MBR Partition Scheme for BIOS or UEFI_CSM is selected and the File System is NTFS.


Select Ok:


Wait for Rufus to make the Bootable USB. When it says Ready close Rufus.


Repeat this procedure with your second USB flash Drive and the RS1 (Build 14393/version 1607) .iso.

Changing the Time in your BIOS Setup

Power down your computer. Wait 10 seconds and power it up. Press [F2] at the Dell BIOS Screen. Other OEMs may use a different function key or [Esc].

1. Dell BIOS

This will take you to the BIOS setup. Your BIOS setup may look slightly different to mine but the procedure should be similar. Read the instructions at the bottom of the BIOS setup for instructions.

“I set a date with an Yankee lassie on the 10/02 (10th of February) and she arrived late on the 10/02 (2nd of October).”

I have deliberately set the date for the 09/09/2015 (9th of September) – this way there is no confusion between British and American date/time formats.

I will press the [↓] key until I get to Data/Time:


Then I will press [Enter] to enter the field:


I will then press [→] until I get to the month.


I will press the [↓] key until I get to September. I will press the [→] key until I get to the year and press the [↓] key until I get to 2015.


Then I will press [Enter] to finish modifying the date:


The time in my BIOS setup is now September 2015.


I will now press [Esc] to exit the setup.


Before exiting I will insert my Windows 10130 Insider Bootable USB into one of the free USB ports. I will make sure all other USB ports are empty with the exception of mouse and keyboard. If you have an Ethernet cable plugged into your system also ensure that you remove it.

Then I will press [→] to get to Exit and then press [Enter].


Note for some BIOS setups you will get the option to Exit Discarding Changes or Exit saving changes.

These may also be mapped to different keys, some BIOS will have [Esc] as the key to exit the BIOS setup discarding changes and the [F10] as the button to exit the BIOS setup but saving changes. As I said read the instructions on your screen to confirm.

When you exit the Dell BIOS setup you will see the Dell BIOS screen again. Ensure you hit F12 to get to the Boot Menu:


Press the [↓] until you highlight the USB Storage Device and then press [Enter].


Press any key when prompted such as “h" when it says Press any Key to boot from CD/DVD.

Clean Install Build 10130


Select your language and keyboard settings (if using the .iso from the unofficial location, you will need to select English (United States) as the Language as this .iso is locked to that language. The time and currency format and keyboard or input method can be set to your desired preference however. I have selected English (United Kingdom). When you have selected your preferences select next:


Select Install now:



Accept the license agreement:


As always select custom (advanced):


This is the screen you can load SATA drivers on as normal however this installation media is from 2015 and should accommodate the hardware of all Windows Vista systems.

I advise selecting drive options and deleting everything on the drive so it only Disc 0 Unallocated Space (assuming you only have one drive installed) as shown below.

Drive Deletion1

Then select Drive 0 and select next:


Windows 10130 will then install:


The computer will restart.

You will be given the setup options. Windows 10130 will try and instruct you to connect wireless to the internet (if you have a wireless card).


If you connect to the internet, Windows 10130 will automatically sync its time/date settings with the Windows server and inform you that the build has expired. You will no longer be able to activate this build if this happens (and have to change the date in the BIOS setup and clean install 10130 offline again).


You will be given setup options select express settings, theres no point in customising these settings as this is just an intermediate install which you will use directly to get to Windows 10RS1 (Build 14393/Version 1607):



In the next screen input your username and select Next. I wouldn’t even bother inputting a password at this stage: