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When you went to the Gateway website and downloaded drivers, did you notice that under drivers there was nothing for the webcam? Use this link and download the webcam application under Applications tab. The driver is included in the application. http://panam.gateway.com/product/default.aspx?modelId=4104
The Dell Inspiron 1501 has a set of internal speakers but doesn't have a built-in microphone. You need to plug an external microphone into the microphone jack on the right side of the notebook as shown below. You can open Messenger and click on the Tools tab then select Audio and video setup. (note as there is no built-in webcam, it will just be an audio setup). You may decide later to add a USB webcam with a built-in microphone in which case the plug-in external microphone will no longer be required.
Did you try reinstalling the drivers? Maybe try uninstalling the webcam device from the Device Manager first. Sometimes programs that install later can affect the workings of existing software or devices. More ideas here.
I'm using a Toshiba satellite notebook A200, which I faced the same problem like you saying my built- in webcam cannot operate after I clicked on the drop down list from the windows live messenger to have a webcam conversation. Another program is running the webcam at startup. That program is called Camera Assistant Software which is the conflicting software. Therefore I closed this software and I'm able to use my webcam again in my webcam conversation in windows live messenger. I hope this information will help you.Good Luck!