I just got a laptop the other day. it was reading CDs and DVDs for awhile... then I removed a bunch of shitty trial software and installed 15 updates from windows, and it stopped recognizing CDs/DVDs.
I don't know if I uninstalled something I shouldn't have, or if this is a common vista problem caused by the updates.
+kma for any help.
I have two Vista laptops with all updates installed, I've not heard of this problem. If I had to guess, something got fubared when you removed the trial stuff. You may have to restore the factory image and if that fixes it, be a bit less aggressive with removing stuff. Did you by chance remove the bundled CD/DVD software that comes with most laptops? If so, it may have left a driver hook in an unstable state or something.
..is there any way I can just get new drivers instead of restoring?
Normally you don't download drivers for CD/DVD drives. That functionality is included in native Windows drivers. I'm just wondering if a 3rd party app didn't hooking into the driver chain (or install phantom drivers, like Alcohol, Daemon Tools, AnyDVD, etc. will do), and then when removed it left things borked. Obviously you should look for anything obvious on your laptop mfg's website, but I don't know a specific driver to tell you.
As a first step, you might try installing your chipset drivers, which typically update the drive controller drivers for enhanced functionality. That might reset things for you, I don't know.