First thing - are virginmedia having any technical issues? Ring the helpline there is often a message at the start if they are aware of any issues.
Can you login on webmail - click here - this will make sure you are using the correct password.
Livemail is actually very similar to OE behind the scenes - look for the box that says "log on using secure authentication"
Try Mozilla Thunderbird, you can set this up and run in addition to livemail. Just tick the box to "leave a copy on server" and your messages will only download to livemail.