[Legacy] Windows Vista Installation

Windows Vista End of Support

Windows Vista was released in January 2007 and reached End of Life in April 2017. Windows Vista should be regarded as unsafe to use online and there is no modern Browser support for this legacy Operating System.

Computers manufactured at the time of Windows Vista are now approximately 12-15 years old and should be considered as Legacy Systems. They do not have the capabilities of running modern versions of Windows such as Windows 10 or Windows 11 as they are below System Requirements. Moreover there is no Free Upgrade and the cost of a Windows 11 Retail License is far higher than the worth of such Legacy Hardware. Legacy Systems no longer have any support from their computer manufacturer (as they have outlived their warranty period by about 4 or 5 fold).


Zorin OS 16 Lite or Zorin OS 15 Lite

There are a handful of Linux Lite Editions aimed for use on Legacy Computers. One of the most noticeable is Zorin OS 16 Lite which is a Linux distribution designed with a Windows Like Desktop Environment. Installation of Zorin OS 16 Lite will allow one to continue to use their computer for basic tasks such as web-browsing, word-processing and viewing multi-media such as videos. Note that Zorin OS 16 Lite requires a computer with a 64 Bit Processor. For older systems with a 32 Bit only Processor, you will need to use the last 32 Bit Version which is Zorin OS 15 Lite.

For more details see:

Legacy Guide

This guide requires a Dell Windows Vista Reinstallation DVD.

Power down your computer. Hold F12 while powering up your computer (at the Dell BIOS screen). 


Select boot from CD/DVD or from USB respectively.

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

You will get a black screen that says  “Windows is Loading Files” and then another screen with a loading bar. These should disappear pretty quickly.


You will then be prompted for your language, time and currency format and keyboard settings. Mine are all set to U.K. as shown below, amend for your preference.


Select Install Now.


You will then be asked to enter your product key. Select skip if you want a 30 day trial, are using a Dell OEM license or a retail upgrade license. Confirm that you want to skip and select next. If you are using a retail full license enter your 25 digit product key and then select next. You may then be presented with a screen selecting which version of Windows you wish to install which should match your license. If you have entered the product key it will select the version corresponding to the product key automatically.

A Dell OEM Reinstallation DVD when used on an eligible Dell system will automatically select the version of Windows and input the Dell System Locked preinstallation key.

6 8 

Read the license, check to select and then select Next.


Next select Custom (Advanced).


Note select Custom (advanced) even/especially if you are “upgrading” from Vista to 7. There are always some bugs when selecting “Upgrade” on this screen and this seriously hinders your systems performance.

If no drives are listed on the “Where do you want to install Windows?” screen then you must select Load Driver and select the SATA drivers from a USB stick. The SATA drivers essentially allow Windows to recognise the hard drive controller on the motherboard and thus allow Windows to view the drive letting you proceed with the install.


See Downloading, Preparing an Loading SATA Drivers if you haven’t prepared the SATA USB stick in advance. Ensure that “Hide drivers that are not compatible with hardware on this computer is ticked” (it should be set like this by default). Select all the drivers listed and then click next. It will take you back to the “Where do you want to install Windows Screen?” this time showing the hard drive.


You can then select “Drive Options” which will allow you to delete or format partitions if any are present aswell as create new ones if there is unallocated space on the hard disc.


Note if you have not backed up your files (unrecommended) and want to later restore them don’t opt to delete or format the drive, just select the largest partition and select next. All the folders/files from the former Windows installation will be relocated to a Windows.old folder. The desired files can be copied from Windows.old to their desired location after Windows installation.

If you are installing on a Media Direct system and have set up the media partitions in advance. Select the largest partition and select next.

If performing a clean install on a drive that had Windows XP or Vista factory installed you will encounter several factory installed partitions. I recommend selecting and deleting all these partitions as they are a waste of hard drive space and non-functional after manual Windows installation.There may also be a small diagnostics partition on older systems for the F12 preboot diagnostics which can also be deleted.* After all of these are deleted you can select new to create a new partition on the hard drive and select next for installing Windows. When you install Windows Vista it will make a small system reserved partition of 100 MB, don’t worry about this as it is normal operation.

If you have securely wiped your system with DBAN or replaced the hard drive/solid state drive (recommended) you can select new to create a new partition on the hard drive and select next for installing Windows. When you install Windows 7 it will make a small system reserved partition of 100 MB, don’t worry about this as it is normal operation.

* These diagnostics can be launched from a bootable USB/CD. If you ever need to launch these diagnostics you can follow my instructions in F12 preboot diagnostics.

Windows Vista will then go through the steps of copying files, expanding files, installing features, installing updates and completing installation:


You will be prompted for a username and password. Enter these and press next.

Note you can leave the password blank (to have no password – not recommended but optional). Personally for convenience I tend to leave the password blank and add one after the installation of Windows 7, drivers and updates as you will be prompted to restart your computer several times.


By default the PC name will be “username-PC” but you can change this as desired. Click next.

19You will then be asked about Windows Update settings its generally best to go with recommended.


The next screen(s) should be about connecting to the internet and/or connecting to a wireless network. In this case the system is a home desktop connected to a router via an Ethernet cable.


Thus Home network is selected.

You may alternatively be asked about connecting to a wireless network.

Note the above screen should show only if your system can connect to the internet. Often the network drivers are needed to be installed before connecting to a network so this step may not show or if it does skip it if you cannot connect.

The setup will then tell you thank you. Press start.


Windows will then assess yur systems performance which you cannot skip (although its a waste of time assessing the performance until the system drivers are installed)


You will then be taken to the Windows Vista Desktop.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.