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Windows XP Does Not Start - won't boot
from the text-mode boot menu that comes up when you have trouble booting Windows XP.
Last Known Good Configuration
    Safe Mode
If Windows does not start, restart Windows by using the Last Known Good Configuration feature:
Start the computer and then press the F8 key when Windows begins to start. The Windows Advanced Options menu appears.
Use the ARROW keys to select Last Known Good Configuration (your most recent settings that worked), and then press ENTER. If a boot menu appears, use the ARROW keys to select Microsoft Windows XP, and then press ENTER. Windows XP restores the computer to the most recent restore point.
More If Windows XP Does Start
Log on to Windows as Administrator.
Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click System Restore. System Restore starts.
On the Welcome to System Restore page, click Restore my computer to an earlier time (if it is not already selected), and then click Next.
On the Select a Restore Point page, click the most recent system checkpoint in the On this list, click a restore point list, and then click Next. A System Restore message may appear that lists configuration changes that System Restore will make. Click OK. On the Confirm Restore Point Selection page, click Next. System Restore restores the previous Windows XP configuration, and then restarts the computer.  Log on to the computer as Administrator. The System Restore Restoration Complete page appears. Click OK.
If you're using the NTFS file system - You could boot your computer to a DOS boot disk, but you won't be able to access the NTFS volume from DOS. You can boot to your Windows CD and access the Recovery Console, but Microsoft has limited the usefulness of Recovery Console for security reasons.
Start your computer by using the Windows Setup floppy disks or your Windows XP CD.
At the "Welcome to Setup" screen, press F10 or press R to repair, and start the Windows Recovery Console.
After you start the Windows Recovery Console, you receive the following message: "Microsoft Windows Recovery Console. The Recovery Console provides system repair and recovery functionality. Type EXIT to quit
the Recovery Console and restart the computer.
Which Windows Installation would you like to log onto?"
Type 1 or the number for the appropriate Windows installation.
You'll be prompted for the Administrator password for the machine. (If  there's no password, just press Enter.) Once you get past this hurdle, you'll be presented with a DOS-like command line. Type the following line and press Enter:
chkdsk /r
If your System Registry has a corrupted hive this process may take quite a while, and it may appear to restart. But let it run.
Also see:
How to Recover from a Corrupted Registry that Stops WinXP from Booting:
Additional Microsoft knowledgebase articles:
A Description of the Safe Mode Boot Options in Windows XP:
How to Start Your PC Using the Last Known Good Configuration in WinXP:
Some of the above text is modified and from http://www.scotsnewsletter.com/ and excellent newsletter.

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