Have you tried this support document? http://support.apple.com/kb/TS1538
Also, the iPhone will not show up in Windows Explorer unless there are photos in the Camera Roll. There is no "disk mode" for the iPhone like there were for iPods. Also, when you uninstall iTunes, you should follow these instructions to the letter to uninstall and reinstall. http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1923
See if that helps.
It sounds like you have a bad USB driver for the phone. That software is installed with iTunes. Like I said earlier, you need to make sure to uninstall everything using that support document. That clears out all Apple software. Do that without the phone attached to the computer of course. Once you have reinstalled everything, then try and connect it. It should load the USB driver and begin to work.
Let me ask you this. How many pictures do you have in the camera roll? If you have a large number of them and you have not imported them to the computer, there could be a corrupt picture causing you some problems. While that was known in the past to cause syncing problems, I thought that was fixed. If after you uninstalled iTunes the phone was recognized as a camera, I suggest importing the pictures and then deleting them from the camera roll and try the process all over with uninstalling and reinstalling iTunes. See if that helps.