Let me tell you my position with Vista. I have never even seen Vista, let alone used it. So I can't express an opinion about the usability or reliability of Vista's tools. I can tell you that my experience with Microsoft's products in general has been less than stellar.
I assume you have downloaded and burned the Mint 4 iso live cd image. Put that in your drive and boot it. When you get the desk top loaded look in the menu and you will find a program called "Gparted." Open that program and you will see a graphical representation of your hard drive. Confirm that you in fact have the partitions, and only the partitions, your other program said you have.
You might want to refer back to this thread, about half way down the page.viewtopic.php?f=90&t=9470&start=0&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&hilit=Fred+partitioning
If your partitions are as you said the are, you will need to get your unallocated space to the right, or to the end of your partition table. This will mean putting your recovery partition adjacent to, or flush with your ntfs Vista partition.
Please look closely at this how-to. Gparted is a powerful tool.http://www.howtoforge.com/partitioning_with_gparted
You need to read and understand this before you try to use Gparted.
If you right click on the recovery partition you will see an option called move/resize. You want to move that partition to the left, up against the ntfs partition. Do not resize or format it. Just move it. You will now have your unallocated space at the end of the partition table.
If what you told me is correct you will have 2 partitions existing. You will want to create 3 more.
sda1 ntfs Vista existing primary
sda2 fat16/32 recovery existing primary
sda4 swap swap new Mint extended/logical
sda5 ext3 / (root) new Mint extended/logical
sda6 ext3 /home new Mint extended/logical
Note: The missing sda3 is not a typo. It is an unseen place holder for the greater extended partition.
sda4 swap 2 Gig. format
sda5 ext3 12 Gig. format
sda6 ext3 33 Gig. format
After you review carefully, and successfully commit the changes, you can run the install program and mount the partitions as I indicated. When you get to that part select manual partitioning.