spyware malware windows

i dual boot my pc between win7 and ubuntu. on the windows side of things i notice google instant searches weren't working. and now i'm pretty sure i have some sort of malware, or spyware, despite the fact that my windows security essentials is running fine. i think i have something, because not only does google instant search not work, but search result always link to something else that is trying to sell me something. i also notice that the google instant search isn't working no matter which browser i try, ( IE8, chrome, firefox ). so i was going to look at my host file and ip settings, however, i would imagine that whatever is the problem is more complicated than just messing with the host file. also, i assume that since it doesn't matter what browser i use, this bit of malware must be in the windows system and not in internet explorer.
i mention the ubuntu thng because i thought i would use ubuntu to dig into the guts of wiindows to try and find this thing.
i know i could try malware bits, or combo fix, but i would like to try and dissect this to try and understand the mechanics of these things.
so any suggestions on how to start? up to this point i have mostly used combo fix or malware and i am not sure how to go about trying to de-constuct malware.
i don't care if i break windows.
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JeffBeallAsked:
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rpggamergirlConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Try using TDSSKiller if searches are redirected. Then if the problem persists, followed with MalwareBytes and ComboFix and show us the CF log.

Download and run Kaspersky's TDSSKiller
http://support.kaspersky.com/viruses/solutions?qid=208280684


"Google Hijack" - Google Search Gets Redirected"      
http://www.experts-exchange.com/A_3299.html


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Paul MacDonaldConnect With a Mentor Director, Information SystemsCommented:
Take a look at the proxy settings in your browser(s) and see if they've been tampered with.  You can also try starting your browser(s) without addons/plugins to see if that helps.
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JeffBeallAuthor Commented:
ms security essential eventually found it. i wanted to try and poke around and learn about the mechanics of this, not use something like combofix or security essentials. oh well, maybe next time.
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