Okay now this is bizarre.. on restart I couldn't get IN to the BIOS - with Vista DVD it would go into "press any key to boot from cd/dvd" and boot normally. Without DVD it would go into Windows Recovery screen. If I tried to shut it down instead of restart it would give me BSOD. I don't remember what I tried ( I think it was just CTRL ALT DEL at the Recovery screen) and it went into a CLEAN install mode rather than a REINSTALL mode - i.e. it "lost" my Vista OS. However, when installed (after finding my hard drive exactly where it should be) it had kept my files in the Windows.Old folder - despite it welcoming me to the "first install" of Vista. This of course solved the problem.
I was having all sorts of weird and strange problems before this, including bizarre files appearing in my Program Data and assorted other wackery, which is why I wanted to reinstall in the first place. AVG, Spybot and Ad Aware detected no malware, but obviously my registry was corrupted beyond help. I'd like to know exactly what it was that prompted Vista into a clean install in case it happens again, but at least I have my healthy pc back.
Wait a minute.. as I recall it is that clean install setup that I think I've seen in the past and it's that reinstall setup that looks unfamiliar.. the DVD wouldn't autoplay so I selected the setup.exe on it. Does this make any sense?
Edited by Cyrion, 29 November 2009 - 09:47 PM.