Prepare yourselves, mateys, for a tale of horror and sacrifice, of blood curdling error messages and a registry hive gone bad!
I tried doing a repair installation of Windows, which appeared to work until the second stage of the installation process began (after the first reboot). Windows began to load, then I got an error message about being unable to locate certain info in the registry and that Windows will be restarted. I let this process loop itself three times before giving up.
Then, as sweat poured from my brow, I slowly reached for my CD carryall and pulled out my secret weapon...
It was, The Ultimate Boot Disc for Windows
! Armed with it's vast array of Windows repair tools
, I restored the registry from an old Windows Restore Point, rebooted with the XP installation disk, reperformed the repair installation, and successfully booted into Windows!
Then, the complete fourth season of The Black Adder playing in the background, whipping out my copy of Avast! Antivirus, I performed a boot-time scan of the hard drive revealing not one, not two, not even five nuggets of malicious software, but 18 individual infections scattered throughout the drive.
Having vanquished the evil viruses, and thereafter performed a mighty chkdsk and defrag, I moved to fortify the defenses of this laid up laptop through the secret charms and spells of XP Service Pack 2.
So boys and girls, let that be a lesson. Keep your computers up-to-date, protect them with firewalls and antimalware programs, guard against the hacker, unless you want to pay someone to fix it all later for you, that is.