If you are using BOTH wired ethernet (a cable plugged into your laptop) AND wireless, that confuses the windows network status icons in the system tray. some laptops can only show 1 icon at a time, and there are 2 icons. The 2nd icon has to be turned on in your network connections window and has a checkbox option to display it in your system tray. If you enable the 2nd icon, the 1st icon normally will show the normal Internet access method which you mentioned will be your wirelss connection. If you disable your wireless by turning off your wireless LAN disable switch on your laptop or using a 2-key sequence on your keyboard such as <fn-F5> and then plug in your ethernet cable, the wireless icon will show up with a little red "X" on it, and the 2nd icon should show up with a little icon of 2 computers. You didn't mention whether your laptop came with built-in wireless capabililty or if you added a USB or PCMCIA wifi card to get your laptop working with wireless. This could be important if you used an add-on wireless card since you would need to use their utility to report your wireless connection and signal strength in your windows system tray. Sometimes, their utilities don't work right, but most often they replace the windows utility that produces the wireless icon in the system tray with their own. The better companies such as Netgear & Linksys will let you choose between their system tray status icon and theirs. If you have built-in WiFi on your laptop, try enabling the 2nd system tray networks status icon as I mention above and see if that doesn't help. Remember*to reboot* after removing your ethernet cable or enabling/disabling your WiFi switch, and try to use only 1 or the other connection method *WiFi OR wired-ethernet cable* at a time when trying to get the 2 system tray icons working correctly.
Let us know how it goes.
I've experienced this as well. It's just a Windows bug. Try updating Windows. That worked for me.