unable to connect to microsoft update site

  Murghalador 12:03 21 Jul 2007

I have a Vaio desktop running XP SP2. The PC has been having poor Internet performance for the last couple of weeks so I unistalled IE7 and now use IE6 again. This made no difference.
I cannot connect to the update sites at Microsoft the connection just hangs. Other web sites are ok but a little slower than was the norm until a couple of weeks ago. I have now altered automatic updates to notify me when downloads are available.
My laptop, which uses the same internet connection as the desktop, works perfectly so it suggest to me that the problem is within the desktop.
I have to connect to the Internet using a Vodafone mobile connect card (GPRS) but as far as I can tell nothing has changed the signal strength but could the laptop connect whereas he desktop can't due to the signal strength - it hasn't caused a problem before though. I have tried system restore but this fails no matter which date I select.
Any ideas please?
When typing this message the PC keeps missing out characters - does this suggest something?

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