XP already contains a web browser (IE). If you want to install another, you install it in the same manner that any program is installed in XP.
As for home network...that has to be set up in the same manner that any home network is established in XP...use the wizard in XP.
Neither of the two above items will function properly...if the networking/NIC drivers are not installed prior to attempting either of the above. The drivers enable the hardware to communicate/function within XP and the proper installation of drivers is basic to either using a web browser or establishing/using a home network.
I find it interesting that your title indicates that you "tried a clean install", yet your explanation seems (to me) to state that you merely installed over a previous XP install.
My question is...what prompted the install effort? Reinstalling over a previous install...does not solve/resolve malware or hardware problems, nor is it guaranteed to resolve certain types of O/S problems that ensue from malware infections.
Are you using Dell installation CDs for these efforts?
FWIW: I further suggest that you install SP3 and all ensuing critical updates, since approximately 100 critical updates have issued since SP2 first evolved.
Edited by hamluis, 31 May 2010 - 09:47 PM.