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Why does this Dell Inspiron E1705 laptop flash/blink the CAPS and SCROLL LOCK LED's 45 times then shut down, without displaying anything?

The laptop/notebook in question is a Dell Inspiron E1705 running Windows Vista.  This is the customer's laptop, I am their IT consultant. The user says last night he ran some Windows Updates, the laptop was working fine, then he rebooted after the updates were done, and it will not boot up now.

This is exactly what happens:

I press the power button, and I can hear the fan spin up. Nothing gets displayed at all to the screen (not a flicker, no BIOS, no error message, nothing, all black). The power LED comes on solid and stays solid, as does the NUM Lock LED. The HDD activity LED comes on solid for 2 seconds then turns off.

The CAPS LOCK and SCROLL LOCK LED's both start flashing / blinking immediately, in sync with each other. They flash on and off once per second, a total of 45 times. Then the laptop shuts completely down. Holding the power button for 5-10 seconds down does not turn the laptop off.

When the laptop is off the battery light flashes green every 30-60 seconds or so.

I have tried with and without the battery connected. I have tried booting with both memory SODIMMs completely uninstalled (as per this similar problem/solution http://www.eenetworks.com/blog/2007/08/dell-inspiron-1100-laptop-caps.html), and swapping the DIMMs.  I have tried with and without AC adapter power plugged in.

I can't boot to CD or USB device or anything.  The laptop is out of warranty with Dell (we are purchasing one more year warranty/support) so I can't call them and ask what the "45 flashes of the CAPS and SCROLL lock keys" means.

Any ideas?? :-)

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8/22/2022 - Mon