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.
The 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. The Free Upgrade to Windows 7 can then be taken to Windows 10. Note for these old models you are best to stick to 32 Bit Windows as they may lack the requirements to run 64 Bit Windows (System Requirements for Windows 10 64 Bit are higher than for Windows Vista 64 Bit).
Press [Windows] and [ r ] and type in msinfo32 and press [Enter]:
Here you will see your SMBIOS version. If it is 2.5 then your BIOS might be either updated to include a SLIC Version of 2.1 or have a BIOS Update available. For this OptiPlex 760 we can see the Version is A00 and its date is before the release of Windows 7.
Going to Downloads.Dell.Com we can see that there is an A16 release for this model. If we right click the update and select run it as an administrator:
We can update the BIOS:
Your Computer will restart and update your BIOS:
You can check the system information again to see if the BIOS Update has been applied:
You can Download and check to see if your system's SLIC has been updated:
Select Access → ACPI Tables:
If it says 2.0 Windows 7 won't activate on your system. You should install Windows 10 Home 32 Bit on your system without a Product Key. This will leave your system unlicensed with it watermarked to the bottom right hand corner and you will be restricted when it comes to some settings but otherwise it is fully usable and more functional than Windows Vista. It will also be patched and be safer to use online.
See Windows OEM FAQs and Downloads for more details (note when making media this system will be a Legacy System).
If it says 2.1. You can clean install Windows 7 32 Bit OEM for free. Then use the online Windows 7 32 Bit OEM install to generate a genuine-ticket (see Activation of Windows 10 with a Faded COA). You can use the genuine-ticket to activate a clean install of Windows 10. See Windows OEM FAQs and Downloads for more details (note when making media this system will be a Legacy System).
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