OK, those are recovery CD's so there is no way you can get your system back by following the instructions in the Miscrosoft article I linked you to. Which means you'll have to reformat.
Of course you'll have to recover your data first, because you'll lose whatever was on there when you run the recovery disks. And Enthusist is right, any program that you had to install for it to work will have to be reinstalled. Any programs you downloaded and/or updated from the internet you'll have to redownload, unless you saved the set up files somewhere that you can get to.
The registry being corupt is why you can't boot into or use Windows (not even to make a screenshot
) The files are still there on your hard drive, but since the operating system (XP in your case) is shot, it can't read those files. So you have to connect your hard drive to another computer with a working operating system. A working operating system can read and manipulate those files. And BTW, it willl probably
have to be a working XP or 2000 as 98 and earlier won't be able to read them.
Since you have a USB IDE adapter, you can take the hard drive from the affected laptop, plug it into the adapter, then plug the adapter into the USB port on the good system. It should appear as another drive on the System, with the letter, E: or F: or whatever depending on how many other drives like CD's you already have. Then copy the files you want to keep. If you have plenty of room on the hard drive of the good system, it would be quicker to copy to a temporary folder and later burn them to a CD to transfer over once the bad system has been reformatted. Or get a flash drive if you don't alreaqdy have one, it's easier to deal with than a CD--especially since your CD burning software is what messed you up in the first place. I haven't kept up with it but I've heard that Nero is buggy or something and is causing these type problems.
The Mr. may know all this already, but if he needs help let us know.
As far as the recovery/reformat, just follow Enthusiast's good advice. You don't want to be on the net without an antivirus installed and it is essential to get Windows fully updated as soon as possible. If you have a commercial AV on CD you can install that, or download AVG on your good system and transfer it over. I personally don't like automatic updates--I would go to Windows Updates (look in your START menu) and stay there until all of them are downloaded and installed. It would also be a good idea to order the SP2 CD to have on hand that can be used for all your XP computers when reformatting is necessary so you can get that bulky update done without being online. Free except for shipping and only takes a few days to arrive: Order here
You'll also really need a firewall as soon as possible. Some good free ones here:Kerio Personal FirewallOutPost Firewall FreeZoneAlarmSygate Personal Firewall