I have been trying to fix my friend's Gateway laptop for more than a month now. She has XP-Home on it, along with Service Packs 1, 2, and 3. I have the laptop with me as I post this from my own, working PC which happens to have the same OS and web browsers.
For some strange reason, it keeps trying to open internet browsers all the time on its own. This happened with IE6 and Firefox. After a while, it calms down. But when the system starts up or comes out of Stand-by, the windowbomb begins.
It does not matter if it is connected to the internet or not.
It does not matter what the home page is set to.
At times, it had 40-50 browsers open at one time. But more often, it has 5-10 browsers open.
I ran Symantec Antivirus. It found nothing. I ran Spybot S&D. It found nothing. I ran Malwarebytes. It found nothing.
I have reloaded Windows XP from the restoration CDs 4 or 5 times, I lost count. Most recently, I was able to reflash the BIOS using the 9522818.iso file and running 380035.exe. It did not help.
I did not try to reload Windows after reflashing the BIOS, as a Gateway agent told me to run a hard drive scan using GWSCAN512. I ran both the quick scan and the extended scan. Both scans found no errors. I then reloaded Windows OS only (see below) and that did not help.
I also noticed that the system attempts to find an internet connection after I reload the operating system, before I switch CDs and load the drivers.
I was barely able to back up her files before reloading windows for the first time, as this "windowbomb" hijacks other tasks such as Windows Explorer.
Why does this awful thing happen, making the system unusable? How do I make it stop so she can use her system as she has done before?