After a half-hour of Hell because I didn't know that the customer had acquired the laptops at Best Buy (one of Dell's support reps suggested I could only get help from the reseller) a support rep took pity on me and suggested I do a system restore to two weeks prior. I tried that, with no dice. She then suggested that the issue is due to some incompatible updates from Microsoft. That's right, the updates that are supposed to make our computers safer and more stable were crashing this one out. The support rep further suggested that I turn off automatic updates. Fat chance, I told her, then I politely asked if she knew which updates in particular were causing the mischief. After a relatively brief hold, she gladly informed me that the issue was caused by the following updates and suggested that if I remove them my computer would operate trouble-free.