End of Life
Windows Vista reached End of Life in April 2017 from this date Windows Vista is totally unsafe to use online. Internet Explorer is not supported, Chrome is not supported, Firefox is not supported and the OS is not supported.
Download wise Windows Vista reached End of Support in February 2015 when Microsoft removed the Windows Vista Downloads from their Digital River servers. I do not recommend Reinstallation of this legacy Operating System.
Free Upgrade to Windows 7 OEM
According to Microsoft’s marketing systems sold ~6 months before the release of Windows Vista were eligible for a Free Upgrade to Windows 7. While this Free Upgrade Path long expired the activation mechanism for this Free Upgrade Path is still in place, the presence of a System Locked Preinstallation Certificate (version 2.1).
Moreover it is model by model; a Dell OptiPlex 760 which we will use as an example sold with Windows Vista Business when the model was launched (October 2008) is indistinguishable to a Dell OptiPlex 760 sold with Windows Vista Business the day before Windows 7 Pro was released (July 2009) provided they have the latest Legacy BIOS installed.
Press [Windows] and [ r ] and type in msinfo32 and press [Enter]:
You are interested in the following fields:
The first one to note is the SMBIOS.
- It should be 2.5 for a Late Windows Vista system.
- If the SMBIOS is <2.5 the system’s BIOS will never have been updated to incorporate Windows 7 OEM SLIC.
- If the BIOS >2.6 the original BIOS Update will have the SLIC version of 2.1 if present.
The next fields of interest are:
- System Manufacturer
- System Model
- BIOS Version/Date
You should use this information to look at your computer manufacturer’s website to see if you have the latest BIOS Version and if not update it. For convenience I have listed all the BIOS Updates for most Dell Late Windows Vista systems here. Follow the instructions below and comment to let me know your system model, BIOS version and SLIC version (2.0 or 2.1) as it may help others.
In my case I have a Dell OptiPlex 760 @ BIOS Version A00 so I need to update its BIOS.
Ensure all programs are closed. Right click the latest BIOS Update and select “Run as Administrator”:
Select Continue at the User Account Control Prompt:
Wait for the BIOS to update and for the computer to restart:
Once the BIOS is updated look at the msinfo32 again to ensure it is updated:
You are also interested in the OS Name this will indicate the Edition of Windows 7 you should clean install later:
- Windows Vista Starter → Windows 7 Starter
- Windows Vista Home Basic → Windows 7 Home Basic
- Windows Vista Home Premium → Windows 7 Home Premium
- Windows Vista Business → Windows 7 Professional
- Windows Vista Ultimate → Windows 7 Ultimate
Next you need to download the 32 Bit version of RWEverything and extract and install:
Launch the setup.exe:
Look for a SLIC Tab. If you do not have a SLIC tab then your system was sold without a Windows OEM License and you have no Free Upgrade.
You will see your OEM ID and SLIC Version. If the SLIC Version is 2.0 you will only be able to install and activate Windows Vista OEM using OEM SLP.
A few systems such as the Inspiron 530 and Inspiron 531 have a SMBIOS version of 2.5 but just missed out on having their SLIC Updated to Version 2.1.
In the case of the OptiPlex 760 @ BIOS Version A00 the SLIC Version is 2.0:
In the case of the OptiPlex 760 @ BIOS Version A16 the SLIC Version is 2.1:
This means Windows 7 OEM can be installed and activated using OEM SLP @ BIOS Version A16 but not @ BIOS Version A00 for the Dell OptiPlex 760.
Downloading Windows 7 Installation Media and Activating using OEM SLP
- 1. Download Windows 7 SP1 (November 2011) Commercial OEM and Retail .iso from Microsoft. (Written Guide)
- 2. Activating Windows 7 using OEM System Locked Preinstallation (Written Guide)
- 3. Windows 7 Installation (Written Guide)
- Windows 7 Installation (Video)
Note that your system has a Legacy BIOS so when making the Bootable USB from the .iso ensure you use the following settings and otherwise ignore any mention of UEFI:
Downloading Windows 10 Installation Media and Activating using OEM SLP
Requires Windows 7 OEM to be installed and activated using OEM SLP.
- 1. The Initial Clean Install of Windows 10 Using a Faded Windows 7 OEM COA (Written Guide Updated)
- [Video] The Initial Clean Install of Windows 10 Using a Faded Windows 7 OEM COA (Video Updated)
- 2. Downloading Windows 10 RS2 Build 15063/Version 1703 from Microsoft via the Media Creation Tool (Written Guide Updated)
- [Video] Downloading Windows 10 RS2 Build 15063/Version 1703 from Microsoft via the Media Creation Tool (Tutorial Video Updated)
- 3. Creating a Windows 10 Bootable USB within Windows (Written Guide Updated)
- [Video] (Tutorial Video in progress)
- 4. Installation of Windows 10 RS2 Build 15063/Version 1703 (Written Guide Updated)
- [Video] Installation of Windows 10 RS2 Build 15063/Version 1703 for a UEFI BIOS (Tutorial Video Updated)