I have a Dell laptop running Win XP Pro. It was a gift to my daughter from her Grand Parents.
It was a used pc from a high school that was upgrading to new pc's. We have no Win XP Pro recovery cd-rom and we also don't know the product key.

Having said that: The operating system will not load at all. We have done the following.

1. Prior to this problem the pc had been scanned for viruses and spyware with nothing found.
2. Tried tapping F8 key to use safe mode or last known good configuration. Tried both with no luck.
3. Made a Win XP Pro boot floppy with 3 files. Boot ini - ntdetect - ntldr. Tried to boot the pc with this after changing bios to boot from floppy. Got an error message about not being able to read from boot disk.
4. Made 6 Win XP Pro boot floppies from MS. Ran them on the bad pc and on the 6th disk we got to the welcome screen and pressed enter but it then asks that you insert the Win XP Pro cd-rom which we do not have.

Without the Win XP Pro cd-rom and the product key are there any other options to help load the operating system?

We had been having problems with our internet connection and tried uninstalling Zone Alarm and reinstalling and that's when the pc shut down completely. When we turned it back on it flashed a blue screen with what appeared to be an error message then went to a dos like screen with options to start the pc. None of these options worked.

Thanks for listening,

Hate to tell you, but without the accompanying Windows CD-RON:

1. The existing installation of Windows is not legal
2. You'll now need to purchase a copy of Windows XP so that you can reinstall or repair the existing installation.

No way out of it, I'm afraid.


Thank you for that quick reply.

I was afraid you might say that!

Time to start shopping for a new Laptop.

Thanks again, and what a great forum.

It'd be cheaper to simply get a copy of Windows. If the system was working OK before, the events you outline don't indicate a problem with the laptop itself - just with the Windows installation. Wiping and reloading the hard drive seems the best course of action to me.

If you have an old Windows 98 CD you could even purchase a cheaper 'Upgrade' Windows CD and use the 98 CD for eligibility verification. If your daughter is a student she is eligible for a cheaper 'Academic' version of Windows, which is the same thing with a student license.


Thanks for the good suggestions. I will pass this info along to my daughter.

Sorry about misspelling your name earlier.