After reinstalling Windows did you install all of the device drivers, chipset first? If the chipset drivers aren't installed first, Windows will not be able to recognize or install drivers for other devices, like your wireless network adapter.
Did you ever think of going to the Dell Support site and clicking on the Downloads link? For the Inspiron 8600 all drivers can be found at:
Oh, yes, I have been there. The drivers will not download. I turned off the firewall, McAfee and all the rest of the stuff recommended and it is a no go. Believe me I try everywhere before I call Dell or post here. My intel pro wireless is just plain gone, not listed in devices. I think I will just buy an external adapter and forego all this hassle. I just do not have time to straighten out these messes as it is now 12:30am and I have worked all night trying to fix this mess.
And of course I have tried the old restart the computer also.
I just downloaded the drivers with no problem whatsoever. What happens when you try to download? Is your computer viurs and spwyare free? Have you tried deleting your temporary internet files?
I made progress and if I had really been thinking hard after the downloads did not work I would have tried it before. I went to the Dell driver folders and found the one for the intel pro wireless and just reinstalled it. At least it is back under devices now but whether it will work any better will have to wait until tomorrow. I still think something is wrong with it just by all the posts I have been reading.
Thanks for the help. It did help in a round about way.
Does your other wireless computer work in the same location? Are there any barriers that may be reducing the signal between your router and your location outside? Do you know if any of your neighbors have 2.4 Ghz wireless phones that may be interfering with the signal. Have you tried changing the channel on your wireless router to one of the extreme channels (1 or 11) to reduce interference from cordless phones? If it is only outside that the problem occurs, then it is likely not really a problem with your wireless network card, but rather a problem with the environment.