In a strange turn of events my browsers (neither IE nor Firefox) cannot connect to the Internet on my laptop. It is a hard wire connection to the router and is able to connect to other computers on my home network and access external servers thru Remote Desktop Connection. Also other computers on the network are able to connect to the Internet.
The first thing that pops into my mind is the default gateway. If it is set wrong, then that would explain why you can connect to the computers on your network but not get out to the internet. Check the default gateway on the computers that can get to the internet, and make sure the laptop has the same IP address as the default gateway as those.
The problem was eventually solved in the following manner:
I rebooted and openned up the OS in Safe Mode. This allowed me to uninstall the antivirus software.
I then rebooted again and openned the OS in Normal Mode. It turned out that removing the AV software (webroot) enabled me to access all of the normal OS functions.
Now I cleared the DNS through run/cmd/ipconfig /flushdns
Presto chango the Browser was working again.
So the problem was a corrupted DNS complicated by the fact that the AV software blocked me from accessing OS functions like flushing the DNS. It also blocked me from uninstalling any software, that's why the step of openning the OS in safe mode.
I hope this helps somebody else. It was frustrating.