Thanks for the replies guys --
I haven't gotten a corrupt file message, nor did I remove any dll's.. here's some additional info:
to my surprise, it ran perfectly in safe mode (I thought I'd tried that months ago with no success).
Here's the report I see when I go to event viewer\Application:
The source is Microsoft Office, no Category, and event is 1000
Faulting application winword.exe, version 11.0.6113.0, stamp 40077019, faulting module hpzntp04.dll, version 220.127.116.11, stamp 3ba7d3f7, debug? 0, fault address 0x0001fdc3.
There are dozens of these, all are identical. Then there's one where the source is "Application Error":
Faulting application wordpad.exe, version 5.1.2600.1106, faulting module hpzntp04.dll, version 18.104.22.168, fault address 0x0001fdc3.
Then there's some hex numbers, etc..
I don't think I have anything particularly conflict prone running. Mcafee virusscan, zone alarm firewall, and nvidia motherboard and video card drivers / software..
I suppose the next step is to start up in normal mode, and one by one, kill all running user processes, then kill system processes, till I find the one that's conflicting with word, right? Any better way to narrow it down?
Thanks so much for the help