This computer had several bugs and virus issues, but the problem wasn't a virus. The symptoms were a blank desktop no mouse but the task bar displayed with the start button and the start button would respond to keyboard commands, but all the programs that showed on the task bar did not show up on the screen. Therefore, screen properties (which doesn't show an icon on the task bar) wouldn't appear in the viewable area in order to make or view any changes. Safe mode worked fine however. All the icons and all the programs worked fine in safe mode. Resetting the video in safe mode did not help. In fact, Safe mode didn't show the actual configuration of the video settings that were employed in real mode.
I scanned for virus' in safe mode and found several and removed them, but this didn't fix the problem. What I noticed was that the mouse would disappear off the left side of the screen and when moving it back to the right again, it would take some time before it appear. This indicated to me that there was additional desktop real estate that I couldn't see. To test this, there was a program that was running on every boot where I used msconfig to disable everything that wasn't windows. I couldn't see the message on that window. I assumed it was behind an active desktop virus that was hiding it. So I tried moving it. It runs in a window by default, so I just pressed Alt-Space and then M(ove) and used the arrow keys to move the window to the right. The window area showed up and every time I selected an option, it'd snap right back to the left. The options worked, the dialog boxes requesting the next step, such as reboot now, popped back to the center of the screen off to the left. Obviously, the screen was in dual monitor mode and the screen I was looking at was not the primary monitor, though I am puzzled about why the taskbar and start button showed up on the single monitor I was using.
The move command as I used it here worked on the properties window for the desktop and I was able to move it into the visible area. On the settings tab, there were to monitors and they were extended. I just needed to select the monitor where I could turn off the extending function and then select the monitor I had plugged in as the primary monitor and the problem was fixed.