Did you experience some kind of power interruption, non graceful shutdown or aborted restart?
Sometimes after such an event, the trouble is inablility to read the hard disk properly to find the files necessary for XP to load - in your case it is the one called SYSTEM. The 5 registry files needed from that folder for XP to start are:
The files could really be missing, corrupt, or merely unreachable when XP trues to get them, but at least XP is trying.
If it was me and did not have a proper XP installation CD, I would create a bootable CD that just contains Recovery Console, boot on that, and start with a chkdsk /r. Depending on the severity of the problem, it may be that easy. It could get more complicated.
However, it is easy to try and beats a Repair or reinstall which might not work in the first place if the file system has been compromised by power failure, etc. The other options only become more unpalatable (what have you got to lose
Here is one of many SPAM filled sites to download the xp_rec_con.iso image:http://www.mediafire.com/?ueyyzfymmig
Get a free, easy to use burning application to create your bootable CD here:http://www.imgburn.com/
That process may take some practice if you have never made a bootable CD, but I know it works.
A bootable XP disk would be nice to have but even if I had that, I would still try the Recovery Console, chkdsk /r thing first.
Here is a Microsoft KB that goes into some detail about how to attempt to recover if the files really are really missing or corrupt (I don't think that is you yet) and it is a good top to bottom read before starting to perhaps achieve the ah-ha!
understanding of the problem:http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307545
Edited by joseibarra, 24 July 2009 - 06:23 AM.