Here's where I'm at now. When it boots into safe or normal mode, it boots to a blank desktop (no icons, taskbar, etc.) and the message of svchost.exe has encountered a problem and needs to close pops up immediately. I can CTRL-Alt-Del and get the task manager up, but if I try to start any process that involves Windows files (EXPLORER, CONTROL, IEXPLORE are the ones I've tried), the same svchost message pops up. I can start Firefox using the New Task button but Firefox says its not connected to the internet and can't display the webpage.
So, the client said he has no important data and won't mind a reformat, but I can't seem to do that either. I mean, I'm sure I could nuke the drive with Dban or something and wipe it clean, but I can't reinstall Windows. When trying to reinstall Windows XP, it boots from the CD, you see the files loading into memory at the bottom of the screen, and then it says "Starting Windows setup" (or something like that). Then, right when you think you're going to see that first menu for installing Windows or using recovery console you get the BSOD of 7B. There is no error message (UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME or anything like that). Just a 7B stop error.
I've tried installing XP using each memory stick individually (there are two 1gb modules) as well as ran both memory modules thru 16 passes of memtest86. I've tried a known good blank hard drive as well as a new power supply. Nothing I do will allow me to reinstall Windows. I've even tried 2 different XP CDs, both OEM which is all I've got.
If I'm wrong, tell me. Since I've used a totally different hard drive and got the same results, software cannot be causing the issue. Unless the BIOS is infected somehow. If the BIOS is infected, how can it be scanned and cleaned?
It is a Dell Optiplex 330 computer and according to the owner it is still under an extended warranty, but Dell says it is a software issue which is not covered under the warranty.
Any help or suggestions will be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
EDIT: It never occurred to me to try running MBAM from the task manager. So, I started MBAM as a new task and it opened. It's definitions date was 4/29/10 but that's better than nothing. So I ran a full scan. It found 80 or so items and rebooted. The computer rebooted to the same blank desktop but the svchost error message did not pop up. So, I used task manager to start Explorer. All icons and task bar showed up. I stuck in my XP Home SP2 CD and ran sfc /scannow. It found a lot of DLL files missing. After that, I got a normal desktop on all following reboots.
I can't get it connected to the internet though because Windows says it can't load the driver for the NIC. I went to Dell support and downloaded a driver for the NIC and installed it. But, Windows still can't load the driver. Not sure why. Gonna try a PCI NIC if I can find one in my tornadoed parts closet.
Even though it seems to be booting ok now, I still tried to reinstall Windows and still get the 7B stop error at the same point in the boot up on the CD. Oh, and system restore fails to restore to any previous point.
Edited by possumbarnes, 21 September 2010 - 06:49 PM.