My keyboard froze, and I re-installed XP-Home from the disks that came with the Laptop (Acer Aspire 3100+, AMD Sempron, 512 MB RAM). That didn't solve the problem. The PC works in Safe Mode though.
At first I thought it was a hardware problem, but then sometimes the application would take one letter every few seconds. Task manager shows that the CPU is running between 55 and 70%. So it looks like some process is in a loop and it's hogging up resources, leaving the keyboard no time to enter its input. The problems seems generalized to any of the buttons around the laptop: power on/off, wireless switch, quick launch keys.
From time time, one boot-up is successful, and everything works very well, until the next boot-up. I've noticed that when the boot-up is OK, the icon on the lower right are visible, or there is the arrow < to expand the application bar. When this happens, Task Manager shows under the Performance tab that CPU is running at 2% and the keyboard is working perfectly. The processes tab shows Image Name "System" to use 0%, "taskmgr.exe" a 0-2%, and "System Idle Process" 98%.
Instead when boot-up is not OK and the keyboard is frozen (19 times out of 20), only a couple of icon are visible in that toolbar, and the arrow < does not appear. It looks as if boot-up did not complete. Task Manager shows under the Performance tab that CPU is running at 55-70%. The processes tab shows Image Name "System" to use 60%, "taskmgr.exe" a 0-2%, and "System Idle Process" the balance 38-40%.
A work colleague suggested Safe-Mode, and everything seems OK as described above. I went to the Acer site, and updated the Broadcom wireless driver (I thought it was the culprit), but nothing changed. The same colleague suggested to reinstall the drivers for Audio, Video, CPU, LAN and 802.b/g from Acer Europe at http://support.acer-euro.com/drivers/notebook/as_3000.html
(he swears that this German site is faster for downloads). However, device manager doesn't seem to recognize the drivers. And I'm not able to update any driver.
Any idea and suggestions?