Yippee! Finally got what I think is Ice Cream Sandwich on my Xperia P phone. The microSIM finally got recognised by the way - sometime on the road between Astcote and Milton Keynes the following day so that was one problem resolved. Getting the new software, though, was not so simple.
After a couple more tries at using the Sony PC Companion software I gave up and dashed off a reasonably polite note to the Sony support e-mail. All credit to whoever dealt with it, a couple of days later they accepted that Sony PC Companion wasn't going to work and even seemed to admit that the required software wasn't accessible immediately if one selected the Xperia P on their site! Instead, he or she suggested that I use W205 as my phone at the first stage and see what the Java powered window comes up with. Below are the instructions they sent:
Currently the program is not listed on the downloads section for your Sony Ericsson Xperia and so we would suggest that you select the 'W205' on the Sony Xperia website to be able to download the program. This can then be found by following the below steps.1. Go to www.sonymobile.com2. Select Support3. Choose a handset from the drop down list (W205)4. Select "View All Software Updates"5. Update Service6. Check the requirements and then "Download Update Service"Once you have installed the Sony Update Service you will need to launch it. Once it opens simply follow the instructions that you will see on screen. The update should then begin.
The Update Service is about 34MB and arrives quickly enough on a PC. The operating system download is ten times that - about 340MB - which takes a while but it installs pretty quickly on the phone. There's that nerve-wracking moment when a low resolution O2 image appears a few seconds after switching on and seems to linger just that little bit longer than you would wish it to. Then it's all go and, with a dark Google search bar and some slightly different application motifs and then a steady stream of application updates.
Contacts, recent calls and messages are all intact but I expect I'll find something missing but nothing that can't quickly be retrieved I'm sure.
So all's well. The system seems very quick but the large RAM on this phone may be as much to account for that as the new operating system. Just need to look out for Jelly Bean now!