I posted this question. It was the second time I posted it because it never appeared on the forum - apparently the need for moderator review delayed it. I posted a followup with the solution I discovered only a day later, and that post has never appeared, apparently it is still awaiting moderator review.
I realize the moderators around here are probably volunteer, and that this service is offered but not manned by the makers of CS-Cart. If that is the case, and screening of pre-purchase inquiries are too much of a burden to review in a timely manner, then I would suggest it would be a much better idea to simply restrict all posting on the forums to registered users (owners), and get rid of the statement " This is an open forum for potential customers to ask general questions about CS-Cart". Unacknowledged or unanswered questions will only do harm to the perception of the software and CS-Cart’s customer service as well as the reputation of this forum. If it is more appropriate for presales questions to be directed to CS-Cart via their contact form, then state that somewhere so people aren’t left hanging, not knowing why their posts aren’t acknoledged.
Again, I suspect the mods are volunteers and I’m not criticising them, just stating that this option shouldn’t be offered unless it can be adequately monitored and acted upon in a timley manner. It does no good to offer it if people are turned away out of frustration.
For future people who might run into the same problems described above, here is how I fixed it.<br /> <br /> The problem was due to my not understanding the host and database configuration screen. I was installing on my local Windows XP PC running apache. The H & D screen asked for "Server host directory" and "Secure server host directory" and defaulted to a value of "\" for each. There was no instruction available, so I accepted the default values. This failed on installation with an error. <br /> <br /> I read a bit through the fourms and noted someone changed "\" to "/" when installing on a windows machine, which I tried and that installation worked, but the skins would not load, thus my post. <br /> <br /> I created an html catalog and noted that a double slash "\\" appeared in my file path in the browser address bar, which I suspected is why things were not loading. I reinstalled giving both fields no value "" and everything worked fine. It would be helpful if this was explained to potential customers on the download page.