what new computers you have, we don't know if they have a 1394 port or an expansion slot so you can add one. Firewire, IEEE1394, DV and i.LINK are all the same thing. Hopefully there is a 1394 port so all you need is a firewire cable - or hopefully, there is an expansion slot (PCMCIA or ExpressCard) so you can add a firewire port.
You will need a firewire cable, too... The DCR-HC40 is a miniDV tape based cam corder. ALL miniDV tape based camcorders have a DV port. This DV port is a 4-pin firewire port. The computer's firewire poert can be either 4-pin, 6-pin or even 9-pin - so it is the comuter's firewire port that will dictate the other side of the firewire cable...
MovieMaker will "capture" the video... If it does not work, WinDV will most likely.
This has nothing to do with the manufacturer and everything to do with how miniDV tape based camcorder provide DV-format video. When you get this working you should see an improvement of video quality compared to the USB streaming quality you are used to seeing.
I have a Sony Mini DV camcorder DCR-HC40 and it came with Picture Package for my computer. It is a few years old. Although a pain in the butt, with the previous version of MS Windows I could download my movies to my computer through USB. With my new computers with Vista I had to upgrade the Pic Pack. Now I can't download without firewire. I only have laptops. When I emailed Sony (twice), it was like they didn't read my email, just answered some generic question. Does anyone have a solution? Is there a different program I can get/buy that will download from my camcorder? Or is there another solution, without buying a new non-Sony camcorder.