I'm very confused over the status of a microphone jack standard that seemingly isn't shared with microphone manufacturers...

Years ago, I had an Cirrus Logic sound card on Windows 98. I would plug a microphone into the mic jack, fully seating the plug into the jack, and all would be fine.

Years later, I had an Audigy card on Windows XP, which is where the troubles started. I tried using a microphone, once again fully seating the plug in the jack, and got nothing. No matter how many tweaks I tried, I could not get it to detect the mic, nor my voice. I eventually gave up--I didn't really need to bog down my 56k connection with VoIP on top of my gaming.

Presently, I am still running XP, but have a cable connection, so I can afford to squeeze some voice chat in with my gaming experience. Here is where the trouble returned...

First, I had a Turtle Beach Riviera. I plugged in a standard mic that came with my motherboard, fully seating the plug, and I could not get any sound. I thought maybe the microphone was non-standard and had been designed for use with the motherboard, so I bought a nice headset (the wife doesn't always need to hear the sounds of my slaying zombies and whatnot) with a built-in mic. I once again fully seated the plug, and still nothing.

So, I thought maybe my jack was busted. I pulled out an old SoundBlaster Live!, installed the new drivers, etc. After fully seating the plug in the mic jack, I was once again greeted with the sound of silence from my test talking.

After much googling, I came across one post that said when the poster looked at the connection, they noticed the jack's pin locations did not meet up with the contacts on the plug. After fiddling with the depth of the plug, the user was able to get sound from his/her mic. I tried it, and--guess what!--it worked. I was finally able to use my mic, so long as I don't nudge, bump, or in any way move the cable, causing the contacts to lose connection.

So now to the point of my post: Am I missing something when it comes to attaching my microphone to my sound card? Do I need to get some kind of adapter? Both the jack and the plug are of the same size and otherwise fit snugly, but maybe I am not aware that some plugs have a slightly longer tip for those slightly deeper jacks? What is this grand conspiracy against me?

Sorry for the rant--I welcome any suggestions on how to rectify this apparent jack incompatibility...