Over the weekend, I reinstalled Windows XP MCE (with SP2) on my Gateway 827GM desktop (Gateway's system recovery process involves creating 5 CD-ROMs with all of the recovery software, apps and drivers). I came across a pretty peculiar obstacle when I tried to reinstall my Verizon DSL internet connection. The installation software told me, in no uncertain terms, that my computer did not have any USB or Ethernet ports. The thing is...I do. I was looking right at them. Device Manager told me that neither the USB nor Ethernet controllers were configured properly, so I tried to reinstall the drivers. But the drivers can't be found. Windows could not find anything on any of the 5 Recovery CD-ROMs (or anywhere else, for that matter).
I've heard of people having problems with devices not being recognized after being plugged into a USB port, but this seems a bit stranger to me. Any advice? Any and all help is greatly appreciated.
If it were a driver issue, you'd most likely still see the devices in the device manager with the little yellow-clad exclamation point and "Unknown Device". Most of the time, they'd even be under the correct categories (Network Devices and Ports, I believe), but sometimes they'll drift down to PCI devices. Does your Device Manager show any unknown devices at all?
If there's no sign of Windows even recognizing that such hardware exists in the system, is there any chance at all that the ethernet (I'm assuming it's on-board) and usb ports are disabled in the BIOS? You might enter setup on boot and make sure that they are. Also set your BIOS to boot "verbosely" and see whether a white on black "chart" appears during boot and if you see IRQs assigned to the network card and usb controllers in that chart? Lastly, are there any BIOS updates available for your mainboard?
If none of the above help, it may be the case that your mainboard is going all pear-shaped on you.
Do you have a CD for the motherboard? If so, the drivers will be on there most likely. Sometimes Windows won't find things by searching, but if you use the Advanced Option you can usually point it at the right drivers using the Browse option or use the Don't Search option and choose if you know what your hardware is.
It seems like a productive use of your time -- reflecting on how you solved problems at work can reinforce both the usage of the tools/methods you used as well as the critical thinking skills that led you to the solutions you found.