AC5UP, thanks! I checked the COM port speed settings in 'device manager' and on the radio, couldn't make it work, did a few other things ... and I *finally*
stumbled into the root of the problem: "Failure to RTFM."
Turns out after all the other steps, I needed to click "download from radio / OK" and THEN I needed to hit the "A" button on the 817 to initiate the transfer. Works GREAT now, zero problems.
Once again it proves the wisdom of the old saying: "When all else has failed, try actually reading the documentation."