Network Connections service Starting and all network connections missing
I had a problem (of my own doing) last night that drove me crazy for a few hours. I was working on a problem on a Windows 2003 SP1 domain controller. After a reboot of a Windows 2003 server, the server was not connecting to the network. Also, the server took a long time to get past the "Applying Network Settings" screen. It seemed to be at least 5 minutes to get past the Applying Network Settings screen on startup.
Once the server was started, if I look in the Network Connections folder, there were not network adapters. The Network Connections service was hung on Starting. Lots of errors in the event viewer, but they were all because the network components were not started.
I went through Microsoft KB 825826: "How to troubleshoot missing network connections icons in Windows Server 2003 and in Windows XP", but had no luck.
This all started because I modified the Default Domain Controller Security policy. I had changed the "Impersonate a client after authentication" setting. It was originally set to Not Defined, but I changed it to just administrators. If you are going to explicitly set this value, it must include: Administrators, IIS_WPG, and SERVICE. Once I added these and rebooted again, everything was fine.