These are screen shots from windows XP and are provided for a general overview purposes.
Depending on the personal hardware and operagting system you have at home your screens may look very different.
Hopefully these screens will give some hints about what to look for.
Start in the Control Panel from the Start Button
Look for Sound and Audio devices.
Look for the Sound Recording device. Here it is under the Audio Tab
Click on the Volume Settings
Make sure the device is selected then click the advanced button.
The Microphone Boost is a check box.
Back under Start >> Accessories >> Entertainment You should find the windows Sound Recorder.
This is the tool I use to verify that windows can "hear' my microphone.
Click on the red record button and speak into your microphone then stop it and play it back.
If windows can not here your microphone none of the other programs will either.