I searched all day for the solution to this issue. This is the only place that thought of the c++2008.
removed kb KB2533623-have a search-loads of stuff out there.
Removed the 2008 c++
Removed Live essentials
Installed live essentials...mail and messenger are back...hooray
reinstall updates and all is still OK!!
I guess you are not surprised?, so many thanks
BTW, other laptop is a Vista Business SP2, and no issues with any of the above...a 1st for Vista!! :-)
Cheers again Cap'n...