Windows Vista was available from the Digital River online store, and some of the download links are still accessible. Most of the links that can be found on the web now are dead, but I managed to search and collect all that is necessary to still download a full version of Windows Vista in English, French or German.
Digital River is Microsoft's service provider for e-commerce. For more details, please refer to this press release. So this is an official download channel, and you can be sure to receive setup files that are virus-free, secure, legitimate and untouched. Downloading the files from Digital River is absolutely legal and completely free of charge. Without a legally obtained product key however, only trial installations can be done.
Purchase an Activation Key
If you don't own a product key yet, you can look at this list of offers from Amazon. Some of these are OEM versions, which contain a DVD with a product key just like the retail versions. They are significantly cheaper, but lack a proper box packaging, and don't include technical support by Microsoft. If you already have the installation files in your preferred language and bit edition, it doesn't matter which language version you purchase. The key only determines the edition (Home, Business etc.) and can activate both 32 and 64 bit in any language. Sometimes better editions are the cheaper ones, so all of the following links to Amazon might be worth checking. Windows 7 might also be cheaper than Vista, so it might also be worth checking the deals on the Windows 7 Direct Download Links page. As for Windows Vista, I've already tried to find good deals and linked to them here:
Create your own bootable Vista iso image
For a complete installation, you'll need three files: an *.exe file plus the two *.wim files. If you want to upgrade an existing Windows system, you can start the Vista installation by copying all three files into one folder and executing the *.exe file.
You might also want to have a bootable Vista DVD iso image. Microsoft
doesn't provide these as free downloads, but actually it's quite easy to
create an iso image from the setup files. Just download the setup files,
start the *.exe, and wait for the Windows Vista system files to unpack to a
new folder. Then cancel the Vista setup process. Let's assume the setup files
have been unpacked to
C:\Vista\. If they're in a different folder,
just replace it in the following steps.
To create an iso image, you'll also need to download and install the Windows Vista SP1 WAIK.
If you're creating a 64 bit iso image (and only if doing so), you'll need to
copy the file
C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\PETools\amd64\boot\etfsboot.com
to the folder
You can then trigger the iso creation by opening
Windows PE Tools,
which will give you a command prompt. There you enter the following line:
oscdimg -bC:\Vista\boot\etfsboot.com -h -lVISTA_EN_DVD -m -u2 C:\Vista\ C:\windows_vista_with_service_pack_1_dvd.iso
Download Windows Vista Setup Files
The following links point to the official download server
msft-dnl.digitalrivercontent.net. For the student discount programme
the Ultimate Steal, Microsoft published installation files for
Windows Vista Ultimate with integrated Service Pack 1 (SP1). These files
are good for installing the other Windows Vista editions (Home Basic, Home
Premium and Business) as well. The activation key determines which Vista
edition will be installed.
The RTM *.exe files lack the corresponding *.wim files. They can't be used for a full installation. I've listed them anyway. You never know what people are looking for...
Windows Vista 32 bit
|Windows Vista Ultimate x86 SP1||English (USA)||
|Windows Vista Ultimate x86 SP1||French (France)||
|Windows Vista Ultimate x86 SP1||German (Germany)||
|Windows Vista x86 RTM||English (USA)||
Windows Vista 64 bit
|Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1||English (USA)||
|Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1||French (France)||
|Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1||German (Germany)||
|Windows Vista x64 RTM||English (USA)||
Windows Vista Ultimate (PRODUCT) RED
This is a collection of screen saver, side bar apps, background images etc. dipping your desktop into deep red, like the red ribbon, indicating solidarity with victims of AIDS/HIV. When properly purchased, a percentage of the proceeds of Vista RED editions goes towards fighting AIDS in Africa. Please don't just indicate your support. Do give! The HIV rate in Sub-Saharan Africa is at an alarming 5%, and even little donations can have great impact there.
|Windows Vista Ultimate (PRODUCT) RED||English (USA)||X15-19965.exe|