Go it .... after a ton of digging. Windows Vista does not enumerate an IEEE 1394a device that you connect to the computer
A registry hack puts back the 32 bit enumeration ... and ... "bob's your uncle!".
After adding it, the firewire connection IMMEDIATELY recognized the camcorder and installed the drivers. Nice....
Below is the Microsoft KB answer...
"When you connect an IEEE 1394a device to a computer that is running Windows Vista, Windows Vista does not enumerate the device. However, if you connect the same device to a computer that is running Microsoft Windows XP, Windows XP enumerates the device successfully." Note
An IEEE 1394a device may also be referred to as a FireWire device.
"Windows Vista only enumerates a device that sets its link status to request enumeration. If an IEEE 1394a device does not report the correct status of its link, the IEEE 1394 stack in Windows Vista does not enumerate the device."