At various points throughout the day the toolbar on the bottom will becom unresponsive - cannot click on "Start" or any other minimized programs. If you click on them nothing happens for about 5 minutes then all of a sudden everything you had clicked on starts opening etc. Obviously something is going on to freeze the tool/task bar. The desktop icons are still responsive during this period. If you open a new program and minimize it it is lost - does not appear at the bottom on the toolbar?? So desktop works, toolbar does not. Certain open applications do not resond as well - no rhyme or reason.
Have a cable high speed connection through router. Router has firewall as expected. 10 other clients, including XP clients do not exhibit this issue. Have disabled Trend VP.
My gut tells me that some app is trying to contact the internet and do something? In the meantime I have various locks?? If i Ctrl-Alt-Del and then cancel, bottom toolbar is gone?? If i Ctrl-Alt-Del and kill explorer.exe, apps unfreeze, and toolbar comes back but with no open programs on the toolbar? I think it is explorere.exe related?? All 3 friggin laptops have same issue.
Is there any "tracking" software or logs that can lead me to the answer? I really am not looking forward to completely reloading all software.