Here's what I can deduce:
1. When windows launches, one of the svchost.exe processes is considerably bigger than the others. I find if i shut this process down (within like 2 minutes past POST), then windows (Start button, win explorer, file save/open dialogs) runs somewhat normally. I downloaded process explorer and the one that I think I'm shutting down contains a variety of dll's that include Windows Audio, Themes, Netman, DHCP client, etc.
2. Sometimes even when this svchost is closed, the taskbar disappears and I can't launch anything unless I launch new task within taskman. Additionaly, even if the taskbar is showing, I can't switch the active window by clicking on it, I have to "ALT-TAB" to switch.
3. What's weird is the INTERNET is fine, no popups, redirects or hijacks. The only time if flakes is when i need something from the file system ie attaching a file. The file dialog TAKES FOREVER to come up. The other weird thing is IF on the file dialogs, if I type in the directory, it pops right up. If I click on (in windows explorer) My computer, I might as well shut it down.
4. Video/Audio/network activity and playback are normal.
I'm completely at a loss for what this could be. Processor is hardly tasked and mem use is normal. Windows will only respond like every 5 minutes and then only for a second or two. But then, every app that I've clicked on in the taskbar comes back, start but expands and the volume control all run at the same time (like they've been stacked up on the windows message stack).
I've removed some software with included a bunch of old virus software my roomate loaded. It included symantec and i scanned the registry for any latent keys and deleted them. I also noticed some services that were launching that don't apply, ie Lightscribe (I don't have a DVD burner attached anymore) and removed them.