Also, one of the few things I do remember is that before I changed it, I'm pretty sure the Primary Master was my Floppy Drive,
No, I said that someone may have wanted you to change the boot order so that your CD-Rom would boot first. You seem to have a problem understanding the concept of "primary master," so I'll offer some more information: "Primary master" refers to the first drive on the first IDE socket. In other words, the master drive on the cable, which isn't something that you could change without physically removing the drive from your computer.
"Boot order" is what you really seem to be talking about - and it's quite common for the floppy drive to be first in the boot order in older computers because without a bootable floppy in the drive, the next thing to boot would be the hard drive. In the event of a failing hard drive, you would be able to put in a boot floppy to start the machine from the floppy instead of the hard drive. So the normal order used to be: floppy - hard drive (primary master) - CD-Rom.
These days, many computers ship without a floppy drive. Some BIOS's are set up by default to boot from the CD-Rom first, and if there's a bootable CD in there, it will be what the machine runs on. Most of these machines will then offer you a timed choice on startup whether you want to boot from the CD-Rom or the hard disk. If you choose number one, you boot from the CD, if you choose number 2 you boot from the hard disk.
Sometimes, you need to boot from the Windows CD to make repairs. If the computer is not already set up to give you that choice, you can go into the BIOS and change the boot order to allow the computer to boot from the CD. When you've finished making repairs, you would then go back and reset the boot order to boot from the hard disk. At this point, if there is no bootable CD in the drive, and the second boot choice is hard disk, it would start normally. (Assuming it can start.)
One point I should make here. When you make a change in the BIOS, you have to exit saving changes. If you exit without saving changes, you haven't changed anything!
From what you've written, your computer is still trying to start from the hard disk, otherwise you would not see the XP screen at all. Chances are you have changed nothing in the BIOS. The real problem is with the corrupted operating system. There is a possibility of doing a repair install of XP - after which you would have to reinstall all service packs and updates again. (If your XP disk has SP2, you would have to reinstall updates you got after that; if your XP disk is SP1, you would have to intstall SP2 and updates after that.)
In this Michael Stevens tutorial
, pay special attention to the part about not booting into the recovery console, and if Repair is not available in the Windows installation, do not continue. If you do, you will lose everything. It is possible to recover data other ways, and if you do not have your data backed up, you may still be able to get it. My only fear is that, if it should be a failing hard drive, you may have more frustration.
Another obvious solution may be to replace your boot record, since you get the message about searching for boot record and then the restarting. In that case, you would have to get the computer to start from the CD (here we go again . . . ) and then, using the Windows XP CD, get into the recovery console - if you don't have an administrator password, you just press enter. Info here
If this gets to be too much, you might want to take the thing to a repair shop and see if they can get it going for you . . . your data would be safer. It depends on how important that is to you. Meanwhile, you can't help but learn a little, abeit the hard way.