Probably a virus attack or a malfunction caused by OS automatic update. It has the symptoms of a virus because other profile failures caused by automatic update have rarely been reported.
A. Obtain high quality anti virus disk, Norton and Panda are two that will work, there may be others, make sure internet is connected, insert disk in drive, start computer, disk will update, scan and neutralize virus in many cases.
They said they could see the windows bar when the system starts, that's what made me think it was malware. Could just be that the video drivers are missing and the screen is in lowest resolution. In fact that sounds like what it is.
But please give us more details, try to describe the problem, and what you have done to test it so far. Does everything on the monitor look really big, like you are looking through a magnifying glass?
The 'column of dots' to me, sounds like a corrupt video display. Which could be from either the monitor, or graphics card. However, since the OP mentioned he tried a different PC, and got the same result, I'm thinking it's a bad monitor. I'm assuming the monitor was tried on a different PC.
What I would try is
Go to the manufacturers website, look up the computer by the model number, download and install the video drivers, restart the computer.
If that does not fix it, I have very little doubt that it could be a bad monitor, as you said.
But from the description, column of dots, that's pretty much what I see when a system has lost the video drivers, the system defaults to the lowest resolution, and everything looks big, like it is made out of dots.