You didn't tell who installed the OS. Some laptops require a BIOS update to run XP and a motherboard driver package to use PCMCIA (or rather PC-Card) slots.
I have two Toshiba Satellite 3000 notebooks and am having problems getting them to recognize PCMCIA cards under Windows XP. It is showing the Cardbus controllers in the device manager as working properly. When I put a card into the PCMCIA slot (any card) on either machine, nothing happens. No recognition of the fact a card was entered. I have installed all drivers from Toshiba's site, including BIOS upgrades. The built in network adapter by cable works fine, but when I plug a PCMCIA wireless adapter in, again no recognition of the card or new hardware. Any ideas?