I'm selling my Thinkpad A31. Anyone want to buy it? It's an amazing system, but it's heavy. P4 1.8GHz, a really sharp, bright 1400x1050 screen, 40GB HD, Windows XP, DVD/CD-RW, 802.11b, extra battery. E-mail me.
For a replacement travel machine, I got a Sony PCG-TR1A (like the PCG-TR1AP, but with XP Home instead of XP Professional), which is gorgeous. But I bought the TR1A and not the TR1AP (cheaper!), and installed Windows XP Professional on it myself. All of the drivers on the web site work fine with it (despite what they will tell you if you call support), but the included Application Recovery CDs barf when you try to run them. I tried to get a replacement set for XP, and was denied. Support told me that the TR1AP doesn't run XP Pro, but they're stupid, because it says that it does right there on the Sony website. Instead of complaining, I hung up. By the way, Sony support's voice recognition system is amazing. Fast, and accurate. I almost wanted to talk to it more than I did the woman who picked up afterward. (Although, John Adams tells me that it does not understand British accents).
So... here how you get the bundled Sony Applications installed with XP Pro (some of which are important for setting your computer up). I hope search engines find this so people don't have to go through the Sony support black-hole.
1) Install XP Pro and use the drivers in the "drivers" directory on either the System or Application Recovery Disc 1 (can't remember which one). If you can't find them, you can grab them off of Sony's support site.
2) After installation, the device manager will still complain about the "USB Controller" device. Uninstall it. It will install itself correctly when you reboot.
3) Let the Application Recovery Disc 1 autorun. It will complain, and die, but it will leave a directory called "ucd" on drive C:. Run c:ucdSonyInstall.exe, and the app installer will load up without complaining!
So there you go. Why can't Sony be like normal computer vendors and give out installers of their software in a form that plays nicely? Argh.
After the applications and drivers were installed, I started getting "CRTCClient" errors upon shutting down. Furthermore, I was unable to run certain installers (like Adobe Photoshop, for example). I did a google search and found this site, which said that it was likely a display driver problem (even though that particular page is about Windows ME). So I uninstalled my display drivers (two identical display devices were listed in the devices screen, for some reason) and restarted. Upon restart, XP found the device again, reinstalled the drivers, and everything has been fine since!
You can use a utility called kcap.exe (do a google search to find it) to extract the utilities on the Sony CD. Once the shared libraries are installed, you can install everything else.
To get the camera to work, go to Device Manager and scroll to the bottom. Expand the Universal Serial Bus controllers, and click on properties for the USB Root Hub that matches your camera (mine was the third one down). Go to the Power Management tab and uncheck "Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power." Restart, and it should work, assuming you have installed the drivers. (Thanks to John Adams for this tip!)
Sony's original response:
From: SOS [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, July 30, 2003 12:43 AM
Subject: Re: PCG-TR1A (KMM11779284I21924L0KM)
Thank you for contacting SONY Online Support.
SONY does not offer an operating system upgrade program for systems pre-installed with Windows XP Home edition to the XP Professional edition. However, should you choose to purchase the retail version of Windows XP Professional, you will be able to access your original SONY Application Recovery CDs and Driver Recovery CDs to reinstall the bundled SONY software applications and device drivers.
Due to the common core between the XP Home and XP Professional editions, the same software applications and device drivers will work under both versions. SONY will continue to provide full support for our pre-installed software applications and device drivers; however, support the XP Professional operating system itself must be obtained through Microsoft.
*****NOTE: When a clean install of Windows XP Pro is installed on the computer, all the drivers from the DRCD including the Sony Shared Library must be installed before the ARCD can be accessed.
So, it appears that I needed some drivers, first. However, the interface to those drivers is ON the stupid Application Recovery CD. And nowhere in the included CDs do I see a "Driver Recovery CD."