We might now be on the latest version 8 of Microsoft Windows, but there are still a lot of people around that have Vista installed on their machines, especially laptops. And a fully patched and updated Windows Vista isn’t really that bad and is a perfectly usable operating system. Don’t forget, Windows 7 and 8 are at least in part based on Vista so it did in fact get some things right, just not all of them!
Whether you purchased your copy of Windows Vista direct from the Windows Marketplace or it came pre-installed on your machine, the chances are you won’t have had a bootable DVD around with a clean Vista install on it. The Marketplace version was available as a “Digital Locker Download” which gave you access to download 3 files, 2 Windows Image Format (WIM) files and an executable. Unlike Windows 7 which can be downloaded direct from Microsoft as an ordinary ISO file, Vista needs a bit of work to create an ISO image which you can burn and then install from.
Users who received Windows Vista already installed on their machine will likely only have a rather old and bloated recovery partition to fall back on. And as you hopefully still have a readable Vista product key on a sticker on the casing of your computer, it’s useful to have the facility to perform a clean install once in a while. If you have a legitimate Vista product key, it doesn’t take too much effort to download the 3 files concerned and convert them into an ISO which can be burned and Vista installed from.
Sadly Microsoft never seemed to release these files with Service Pack 2 integrated so that has to be installed manually after you install Vista. The following downloads are direct from Microsoft’s official distribution partner Digital River, you need the 3 files from either version to create the ISO file. Unfortunately, there are very few languages available, so here are just the English versions. These distro’s contain the following versions of Vista:
Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, Home Basic N, Business N
Windows Vista Service Pack 1 English 32-bit
Install.wim (2,783,166,763 bytes)
Windows Vista Service Pack 1 English 64-bit
Install.wim (3,587,141,686 bytes)
As it’s a large file, make sure that the downloaded Install.wim is the correct size and the SHA1 checksum matches to verify its integrity. You can find 10 MD5/SHA1 hash checking tools in this article. After downloading the required 3 files you’re ready to create the ISO. This is how you can burn your own Windows Vista to DVD from the 3 files you’ve downloaded from Digital River.
1. Place all 3 files (boot.wim, install.wim and X14-63452.exe or X14-63453.exe ) in the same folder on your computer. In this example, I’m simply using a folder called “V” in the root of the C:\ drive.
2. Run the executable file (X14-63452.exe or X14-63453.exe) and it will auto extract the needed files to a new folder called Vista. When you get to the main install window, close it.
3. Download and install ImgBurn which is the ISO burning tool we’ll be using. Watch out for the offer of adware during install. Launch Imgburn and select “Create image file from files/folders”.
4. Now click on the Advanced tab -> Bootable Disc tab, then tick “Make Image Bootable”. Click on the browse for file icon next to “Boot Image:” and select the etfsboot file in the \Vista\Boot folder.
Type in “Microsoft Corporation” into the “Developer ID:” box. “Load segment:” should already be 07C0 and “Sectors to load:” should be 4, if they aren’t, change them.
5. In the same window, click the browse for folder button and select the Vista folder that was automatically created earlier. Then click on the Build button and give the ISO a name when asked. The program may ask to alter the file system of the ISO to UDF and also will auto suggest a label. You can simply confirm the suggested option both times.
After a minute or two your ISO will now be created and you can simply burn the resulting ISO file using the ImgBurn program or another ISO burning tool from our list. For a more successful burn, it’s always safer to use a speed of 8x or under as Windows install discs are prone to being a bit inconsistent when burned at higher speeds. Alternatively use an Windows ISO to USB tool to put the image on a pen stick.
Unfortunately, Service Pack 2 can be integrated but it’s a lengthy process and actually involves installing Vista and then SP2, and re-imaging back to DVD. Trying to use vlite to slipstream doesn’t work either. You might as well just install SP2 after installing the SP1 install DVD. If you don’t already have Vista Service Pack 2, you can download it here: