An IT friend recommended that I try booting in Safe Mode and I had the same problem. The same friend said that it was probably a virus (Trojan something) and I should try downloading Avast and running a scan to try to quarantine. Unfortunately, couldn't download because of the original issue.
So, I was advised (bad advice ahead) by another friend to install all Vista Updates, since it was probably a problem there. I did so, and wound up with an additional issue. When I connected to IE in normal mode, I'd get an 'Explorer cannot load the webpage' error. It's showing that I'm connected and no problems with the hardware. When I boot in safe mode, I'm able to connect with no problems loading pages.
I purchased an anti-virus/malware/spyware program and installed it (install via disc works great) and ran several scans with no results. No spyware, no malware, no virus. I also purchased an uninstall program and uninstalled an expired version of Norton antivirus. With an antivirus program and no Norton, I was able to download Firefox.
I still can't connect to the internet in normal mode, though. I tried disabling all services and no dice. Disablng some services doesn't work either...
All ideas welcome!