I finally cracked. I'd had enough of the complete lack of support from Dell about my lack of sound on Vista. The guy said he'd get back to me, of course he never did. Emails to Dell got no response. Yeh I could kick off another support call but it would just involve several hours of them uninstalling and installing drivers and failing to get anywhere, which I've been doing pretty well myself for several months. To top it all off, Dell sent me an email asking me to fill in a questionaire about my customer service experience. When I clicked on the link, all I got was a message telling me my access had expired. They even sent me a reminder to fill in the survey a few days later, again access expired. Hey Dell, there may be a reason you're not getting much feedback on your customer service...
So I thought, stuff this I'll buy a new soundcard, £20 and all my pain will go away. It all started out really well, Vista recognised it, went away to find the drivers and everything installed correctly, or so it said. Then I tried to actually get some sound out of the PC, nothing, nada, zilch. I pressed the dreaded 'Test' button, 'Failed to play test tone'. Aaaagh! Cheers Vista, why couldn't you play the test tone? I almost long for the usual massive hex number, at least something to work from. The event log is empty.
So now I have no idea what the problem is caused by. Presumably it isn't a driver or hardware problem, so is my Vista install broken? I really don't want to reinstall the whole thing.
On another note, Vista has developed a nice habit of locking up completely, the mouse stops moving, the keyboard doesn't respond, CTRL-ALT-DEL does nothing, the only thing I can do is hit the reset button.
Five years, thousands of developers and what do we have? A prettier version of XP that for me is less stable and other than IIS 7 doesn't really offer much new.