Looks horribly like it's defective, especially when it won't work with two different OSs. They are available on Ebay and not too difficult to replace, Acer generally have good Service manuals. If you decide to go down that route don't order a replacement until you've checked that the ribbon cable is firmly in place, they can come loose. Meanwhile fingers crossed it's the driver...
Well it doesn't appear to be an OS or driver issue since it didnt work with the ubuntu live USB thumbdrive which always picks up the touchpad in every other laptop I've booted it with.
That's why I hoped it may be simply turned off in the BIOS, but alas there is no BIOS option for the touchpad (in fact this BIOS didnt offer anything in the way of disabling ANY of the integrated components)
BTW, the device manager only detected "alps pointing device" (working fine) which apparently isn't the touchpad?