So, today while browsing with Internet Explorer 6.0 in Windows XP a site that didn't seem to be working in Firefox properly (my normal browser) I noticed a popup window appear in the background, for "golden casino" -- such things not being uncommon, I just ignored it. Except then... a command line window also appeared up for a split second and before I could react and close it, or at least read what it was doing, it was already gone. My heart sank as I knew something very, very bad was about to happen.
Very shortly thereafter, "Win Anti Spyware 2007" began downloading itself. I could not stop this process normally, tho I did terminate all strange processes immediately in the windows task manager. However, I still had no idea how to undo what had been done, so, hoping that a reset would be all it would take to stop this, I did that. When my machine came back on, I had no desktop icons (but I did have my wallpaper), no right click context menu, no start menu / taskbar, so basically nothing, although win anti spyware happily finished its installation... After that, the only thing I could do on my computer was ctl-alt-del for the task manager, where a few strange processes were which I canceled (I didn't write them all down). I tried to get explorer to open back up by running explorer.exe in the run box you can get from the task manager. This would pop up an alert window for a split second and then... nothing. So, after popping up that little alert window a million times, I read enough bits to understand that it had "yes" and "no" buttons and some comments about the system restore tool. As I had used system restore in times past when bad drivers had been installed for some cheap hardware I got, I figured this would be the ticket. So, I picked that ("no" was the button to give you this) and restored from this morning. My computer did at least appear to reset back to its old state, I was able to remove all visible parts of Win Anti Spyware 2007 (a few installation directories) but now, attempting to install some malware removal tools (ad-aware, spybot, etc), I always get an error "The Windows Installer Service could not be accessed. This can occur if you are running Windows in safe mode [I'm not], or if the Windows Installer is not correctly installed. Contact your support personnel for assistance." I attempted both method 1 and method 2 in the instructions from Microsoft: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315346
(i.e. re-register then reinstall) but still I cannot install anything. I tried also to uninstall something, to see if it would work, and it doesn't. So, my machine now seems locked out of installing or uninstalling.
Are there any suggestions on what I can do to clean this mess up -- any or all of: the trojan that installed WinAntiSpyware2007, any remnants of WAS2007, perhaps an explanation why my desktop icons/etc disappeared (is explorer.exe corrupted?...), and of course the Windows Installer's glitch?