"Error while opening sound device"

Windows 7, Audacity 2.0.6, .exe installer
I just downloaded Audacity and am trying to record “live”, using the stereo microphone that came with my Dell computer (purchased December 2012). I read some of the Getting Started tutorials but when I click on the record button (for a test recording), I still get the error message, “Error while opening sound device. Please check the recording device settings and project sample rate.” My recording device drop-down is blank (I don’t know what or how to enter anything there) and I’ve left the sample rate at the default rate of 44100 (Hz).
Can anyone help me get started?

I think that’s a driver problem. So maybe look for updated drivers. Did it ever work? This is a USB mic, right?

I’ve seen that error message before and it might not really be sample rate issue. Usually, the driver will take care of any sample rate conversion if the hardware doesn’t directly support the selected sample rate. But you might try 48kHz which is more-standard for computers.

Try switching between MME and DirectSound as your [u]Audio Host[/u] (if it will allow you to.)

I’ve got a couple of different USB audio devices, and sometimes Windows gets confused about which-is-which. I had to go into device manager to fix it (the normal “update driver” dialog box didn’t work). But, I don’t remember exactly what I had to do once I was in device manager… Maybe I had to disable the device and re-install it, but I don’t remember…

Audacity’s recording device box reflects what Windows sees, so you don’t even have any recording inputs enabled for your built-in audio, let alone USB mics.

Windows (or something/someone) may simply have disabled all the inputs for you. I suggest you quit Audacity, connect the USB mic (or whatever it is), open Windows Sound and show then enable all recording devices. See Missing features - Audacity Support for how to do that.

If you still see errors when you select recording devices in Audacity, read Error opening sound device - Audacity Manual - one of the suggestions there is to update your audio drivers, as Doug says.