That Windows Vista has issues with external devices is common knowledge by now. Many equipment manufacturers have failed to cooperate with Microsoft to create device drivers for Vista and the result is there for all to see.
Microsoft has an problem with my USB drive (this is a known issue). Awaking my Vista from sleep to active mode with the drive docked to port will inevitably hang the system within seconds. Microsoft has no patch for my particular thumb-drive (UMAX Apus Skate 2GB) yet.
That set me on my path to a startling discovery. Since mine is an OEM version of Vista, my POC (point-of-contact) apparently has to be DELL, not Microsoft! In fact, there's no way I can make Microsoft officially look up and take notice of me! This came as a BIG surprise to me.
As long as I hadn't come to this conclusion, I kept making futile attempts to getting in touch with the Redmond giant for support. I must say their Help and Support page is pathetic. IE7 offers the user the choice of either manually entering the Product ID (same as Firefox) or automatically downloading a software that send the ID back to Microsoft (exclusive to IE).
I tried both avenues and each time the sickening message that was sent to me was - The product ID number you entered is not valid or is not in the correct format. Please enter a valid product ID number and try again. Make sure the product ID number is of the form: 12345-XXX-7654321-98765.
Holy crap! Instead of making the end-user doubt the integrity of the OEM, couldn't Microsoft simply state that since it was an OEM copy of Windows, support would be provided only by the manufacturer? Though the support page does mention this somewhat obliquely, it looks more like a humble suggestion or an alternative rather than a stern direction.
Addendum: My suspicion has been vindicated as I was writing this post. A kind gentleman answered my query to finally quell any semblance of doubt. Microsoft needs to be more prudent with subtleties.