Have you tried testing the NICs in other system getting the same issue?
Changing the cable to isolate it is not the cabling issue
Driver version used? The latest version https://downloadcenter.intel.com/SearchResult.aspx?lang=eng&ProdId=3025
thanks for your reply. I've double - checked all (cable, other target router), the behavior stays the same.
I'm using the final driver for xp.
I assume some timing issue during system startup, because when I deactivate the network - adapter and reactivate it in the windows network adapter section, it starts working immediately (and of course it works very fine..)
Could it be a time-out occurring during initial checks?