I'm troubleshooting a Windows XP (SP2) eMachine (with a fresh OS install on a new hard drive - no original eMachine software remains on the system) and I've never encountered such a persistent problem: certain applications (Fruit Loops, Adobe Acrobat Reader, among others) run fine after installation, but after a reboot they will not run. Their shortcuts, as well as the actual program executables, lose their original icons and are mysteriously changed to the generic window icon (the one Windows will use for a file type is doesn't recognize.) When I try to run these programs, using the desktop shortcut OR the actual executable, I get the error dialog box: "This program is not a valid Win32 application." This happens to several applications, while others (Pro Tools, Acid) remain unaffected and can be executed w/o any problem.
*Note: this computer is not connected to the Internet, so it is unlikely that this is some type of virus.
What could be causing this? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.