My wife is experiencing a strange problem with her work laptop. It's a Dell D620 w/XP. Suddenly, about 2 weeks ago and still continuing today, when she brings it home and boots it up, it comes up to the desktop wallpaper, but no desktop icons appear. You can move the mouse cursor, but that's it. No taskbar, no start menu via the Windows key, Ctrl+Alt+Delete doesn't work, nothing. A few times, after several reboots and a long 30-minute wait period, we finally got it to come up. But this is happening EVERY night now when she brings it home. She's never experienced this at work.
I guess the only difference between home and work is that at work she's plugged into the network when she boots, while at home we have a wireless network, and yes, the laptop automatically connects to it when it does boot up completely.