(But I'll spare you the week-long story.)
Windows Vista will not connect your laptop to the Internet unless you have some kind of Norton anti-virus software installed. You don't even have to have an active subscription--you just have to have it installed or you will get nothing but that cursed Local Access Only message until you do. McAfee doesn't work; it must be Norton. There is no way around this. Not even plugging directly into the router or DSL modem with an ethernet cable will work.
This is assuming, of course, that the moral of my story can be generalized to all Vista-running laptop owners in the world. I assume that's a safe assumption.