Home page opens as a blank page.
Can be a browser issue, especially knowing that it's IE.
When I ran the Windows Driver update, it downloaded and installed a driver from Sept 2012 (the one installed had been from July 4, 2012.)
Old beta drivers. One of the reasons why you should never accept any drivers from WU.
The AMD VISION Engine Control Center is not supported by the driver version of your enabled graphics adapter.
The typical symptom of WU f********ing up your system. It updates or downgrades the drivers, but leaves the mismatched CCC/VECC in place.
I get the opening Acer screen, then the opening HP screen
I'm starting to think that it's not a desktop PC. Then you should use the drivers provided by the OEM that made the laptop.
1st attempt failed... unspecified error, suggested to run chkdsk.
You're a happy alpha tester of M$ for free. Expect trouble.
Wait, not for free. You even paid for it...
failed to load detection driver
Probably the system failed to recognise some digital signatures. Alpha, remember?
Should I have used some sort of driver "sweeper" software to remove all AMD/ATI bits before installing the latest Catalyst/drivers?
Some people do recommend it, it's even in the official driver install proedure suggestion. Still, I say, don't use them unless it's the only possibility. They're dangerous.
What software includes the detection engine? The Catalyst Suite?
Yes, it's part of the installer. As the name suggests, it's used to determine what kind of video card you have, so it can install drivers for it (or deny installing if it's unsupported).
Why, oh why doesn't the uninstall/install procedure work as smoothly as it does in the AMD support videos?
Usually it does. You either have a borked system (in that case, a golden medal to you, you only needed 1 month) or face bugs contained within the OS. (As I said, I suspect signature policy issues.)
You are also running a yet uncommon and strange config. (I mean dual graphics.) Expect trouble again.
How is a normal human expected to work with this stuff?
Yes, in an ideal world, everything would work fine. These days both hardware and software are released in an uncomplete stage because companies care more about money than customers. You can see this in games, commercial software and a lot of faulty hardware that has to be RMAed after a few days/weeks.
What a "normal human" should do: Let go of the new stuff, it's not for you. Use older hardware with older operating systems. Not ancient, but something that can be researched, people wrote opinions about it, there are reviews etc.
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 810 @ 3120MHz | RAM: Kingmax 2x2GB DDR2 800 @ 833MHz| MoBo: MSI K9A2 CF v1.0 (BIOS: 1.D)| GPU: Asus HD 6850 1024MB (DirectCu) @ 835/1135MHz | Display: L24FHD | PSU: PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 Quad | OS: MS Windows 3.11 Pro x64