I know that you have plans to wipe the machine, but there is a much easier way...
(Try this, It may not work, There are 2 things to try though)
Start -> Run -> (Type) regedit.exe -> Hit enter
(This might fail with the same message. If so, skip to step 2.)
Click the "+" next to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT
Alphabetically, locate ".exe" folder, click the folder, not the "+"
Make sure the (Default) value says "exefile"
If not, Change it to say so (Right click, "Modify")
Download this file, and run it. Go to:http://www.dougknox.com/xp/file_assoc.htm
Locate: EXE File Association Fix (Restore default association for EXE files)
Download and run that file.
Edited by BlindingLink333, 27 May 2010 - 02:36 PM.