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No Treo sync or mail merge w/ Office 2010; start menu icons disappeare

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I started this thread in the "virus, spyware, and malware" forum and just got feedback today that my problem is not malware related and that this is the proper forum for me to post in . . . so . . .

Background: I have a 2003 desktop machine that runs Windows XP Pro and had run Office 2003 and a few other nominal programs well, though slowly. Two weekends ago, I installed MS Office 2010 via download. When I first tried to do the instalation, there was a glitch in the download so I restarted it. After letting the download run all night (it was late and I was tired), I checked for Microsoft updates and was directed to install an upgrade for Office 2007, which I did. I also upgraded Adobe Reader and upgraded and ran Spybot - Search & Destroy. I may have even run a Norton scan (I have Norton Internet Security version I did all of this with the appropriate reboots after the upgrades.

Issue 1: At some point, I tried to sync my Treo 650 with my computer to update my Outlook calendar, contacts, and tasks on both. The sync failed; no connection between the Treo and computer was made.

Issue 2: About two days after that, I tried doing a "labels" mail merge on Office 2010. The merge failed to work (whehther started in Outlook or Word), with the error generally being that my "Contacts" couldn't be found. And the on-line Outlook help button wasn't connecting to the internet.

Issue 3: In the course investigating Issues 1 and 2, I opened my Start Menu to run a system search to find my Outlook data and discovered all but two of the icons typically on the right side of the menu had disappeared. I opened the Start Menu option in the control panel and found the icons had been disabled.

Issue 4: Also in trying to find my Outlook data, I opened my Recycle Bin. Although I have never examined my recycle bin, I noted that the box "discard protected files in 7 days" was checked, though the bin contained numerous items, possibly including protected files, much older than 7 days.

I have contacted the Microsoft Answer Desk several times, focusing on Issue 2. They couldn't solve the problem. They recommended calling Microsoft and having them walk me through a complete reinstall.

Does anyone have any advice? Should I just try a restore and go back to Office 2003?

Thanks very much in advance for any help!
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