If you are saying...that Windows will not recognize any removeable media...I'd have to guezs that's a motherboard problem...since different controllers are used for the various types of media.
<<I had a similar problem a few years back on a work computer, and the IT people told me that there was a piece of software that was superceding Windows and was reading the disk before Windows could get to it, and then Windows never saw the disk. This might be case here as well, but I don't know how to find the heirarchy of software on the computer, let alone how to change said heirarchy.>>
I think that's nonsense...how can a program installed in Windows...begin before Windows does
? Maybe they were joking, I certainly hope so.
Have you taken a look...and did any research...on the errors reflected in Event Viewer?
How To Use Event Viewer - http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/topic40108.html