Yes, Windows XP disks are confusing. The disks are so poorly worded and put together that many accidently press R and drop to console or do a destructive install when they wanted to do a non-destructive install. Recovery console is typically used to repair things that can't be fixed any other way such as fixmbr, fixboot, edit a config file, diskpart. However, in recovery console you can initiate a system restore from a restore point through the recovery console by using the command %systemroot%\system32\restore\rstrui.exe will repair the pc from an earlier date.
After pressing enter and pressing F8 for the agreement you get to the window you need to be on. From there is the big decision to do a destructive install or try a R for repair install, which generally should only reinstall windows OS and leave everything intact. If there isn't a R option on that page then the disk itself doesn't have that option or, the OS is completely destroyed and it can't even detect a windows OS installed. That might be due to a MBR corruption of some sort. Which is the reason to have a recovery console to try to repair issue's like that.
Sometimes the disk will complain that what's installed differs from the disk. Generally you want to use the same disk that was used to originally install the OS. You can sometimes get around this using a disk that matches the OS. Since it's a non-destrcutive reinstall in theory it shouldn't touch the sp2 or the sp3. It should only replace the core system. It probably did that in your case and left everything alone. I would go to Add/Remove and see if it's there & to be certain probably uninstall SP3 and reinstall it. Choice is yours.
Furthermore, I recommend a backup solution. XP is going to lose it's support entirely in April. Without a backup CLONE of your drive you will not be able to restore completely and have all the sp2, sp3. The best solution is to install another internal HD or External HD and use software like True Image to create a full clone of the drive and back it up on the secondary drive. Moreover, it would also be wise to backup to a medium set such as DVD-9's, Without this backup solution, next time it won't be pretty and you will be left in the dark. Just a suggestion.
Edited by technonymous, 17 February 2014 - 03:44 AM.