Here I don't even worry using a NETGEAR FA311 10/ 100Mbps PCI Network Interface Card 1 x RJ45 for XP previously as well as Vista and both 32/64bit 7. The XP mode and presently running Vista on the VPC beta all connect. Knoppix and ubuntu live and installed also seem to connect.
The device manager lists that under network adapters as the Realtek RTL8169/8110 Family PCI Gigabit Ethernet NIC (6.20). Without a router instant connection! With a router added?
The cable modem in use is still shown with a red X inbetween that and the router. Are you running cable or other there?