do you have a particular method for knowing what in particular installed this instance when no relatable entries are in appwiz?
Nope. Trying to find how it came in would be a waste of time at this point.
If you want to Dannim run OTL on the system if you still have it, and have yet to resolve the problem. Post the log here and I will do my best to help. I'm no pro at reading OTL logs, but that's the next step I think.
Below are a links to information regarding this issue. If you have not yet seen these pages please take a look as they may have insight into your issue.http://help.ask.com/link/portal/30015/3 ... t-Explorer
A fix that applies to IE 7, and IE 8.http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2493729
Removal guide of the Ask Toolbar and Ask Search Bar...it may be relevant, or may not.http://malwaretips.com/blogs/remove-ask ... nd-search/
Also is it possible that this system has "Bloatware" still installed on it? Toolbars, cheaply made and distributed software, and all around other crap software that people just don't realize sneak their way in?
I'm fairly sure you have probably gone through most if not all of this, but two heads are better than one. If all of the above doesn't fix your issue please post an OTL log for me.