What do you find when you go to Start > Control Panel > Hardware & Sound > Sound > Recording Tab?
Check to see if the mic is recognized when you plug it in. You could also try making it the Default Device.
Also, I work on a F700 series laptop and we have always had trouble with that Conexant 221 driver. The only one that really works is the one supplied by Windows Update.
The Vista driver from HP crashes the sound (we get no sound). I've found that I can get the HP driver to work in compatibility mode only if I cancel out of the installation half way through. This indicates that the package is installing the driver and then some "enhancement software". I believe the enhancement software is what gums up the works.
But the Windows Update driver is just the driver. You could try uninstalling the sound device and rebooting and then let windows find it and install the driver. That may work, but as those Conexant drivers have already been saved in the Driver Store they may be just reinstalled. But perhaps without the "enhancements".