> How do I ping the Netgear from my laptop
You need to know its IP address before pinging it. The IP address IP should be "visible" if you have access your local router (you need to know its username and password)
How to Ping: Open a Command Prompt window from Windows Vista, type "PING 126.96.36.199" and press ENTER, where 188.8.131.52 is the IP address of your Netgear device.
> a subscreen opens and within this sub screen there is an option to send a short message
Commonly, a Netgear application should be able to discover a Netgear device in the same subnet. If it can't, the most common situation is, connection issue (specifically for you case, wireless issue).
> Didn't try to send fles through a cabled connection (I want to do it wireless!)
That's well understood. It's just a test, as it will help us determine it is a wireless connection issue or an application level issue.
> to have a legit Windows 10 version for me to install
If would be helpful if you could have a Windows 10 computer in place. Windows Vista is a bit too old, I don't think it would work well with latest wireless standards (FYI - today is 802.11n age, the Vista age was for 802.11abg)
BTW, if you think the whole process is too technical for you, I am afraid we better do that in a remote session tomorrow which I could help you handle most things.