My problem is happening at Boot UP, I get the Bios boot screen and when it completes the load it goes to a black screen with a flashing prompt where the widows boot up would happen. The prompt does nothing.
This started right after a Microsoft update(May 12) and I did a restart. No failure happened on my two laptops that got the same update running the same OS.
I have tried a different harddrive and attempted to reload window xp but that also goes to a black screen after the initial statement, "Checking your system".
I also put the harddrive into a external case and can see everything on the drive. Ran Diagnostics, Scan Disk, Disk Defrag, with nothing indicating a issue.
I even checked the Bios battery and it has power.

Can this be a mother board or pentium chip issue? Virus issue?
Anything I should check prior to taking it to a repair shop.

Dell 8250, 3.2 pentium 3, 1 G of mem, WD 250 HD, SB Audigy Sound card, Ati graphic card w/128mb mem, cd-rom drive. Running XP sp3, McAfee, Windows Defender, SpyBot

Thank you for your time.

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HDD back into the other sys, load up the RC, select the OS on the FAILING drive and try fixmbr on it. Running chkdsk /p next would be an idea.
A black screen error with no message at your stage of loading means, I think, that BIOS handed over to an MBR which turned out to be corrupt enough to not give the sys a chance to warn.
Unless by "and when it completes the load it goes" you mean that Windows appeared to load...? In that case it is likely a kernel corruption.

Windows does not even appear to load at that stage. Just the black screen and a flashing white command prompt that does not accept any keyboard stroke.
It does appear to be a symptom of Mother Board failure, but am not 100% sure. I thought maybe a Processer Failure may be happening. Or something else.
I have to correct my info on the Pentium chip, It is a P4 3.2 G.
When I had the hdd out in an external case and checking it on another computer, I ran the full scan disk setup and didnt have any error reports. But I will do it again from a command prompt. Can you clarify "try fixmbr on it"?

Thank you for your time.

"I also put the harddrive into a external case and can see everything on the drive"... that means that your partition table and MFT are fine. Likely the MBR is also, but that fixmbr reference was for you to run the Window's Recovery Console from an XP installation cd, select the failing OS and then to run the command:
You could try to load the RC with your hdd in the other machine, just select the failing OS when that screen appears.
"I have tried a different harddrive and attempted to reload window xp but that also goes to a black screen".. Isn't it strange how one can read something, and totally miss its import. So....
A simple but exhaustive RAM check: dl Memtest 86+ from [you have the choice of cd, flashdrive or floppy]; load it onto your chosen medium [it will be bootable], and run it by a restart. Note that just one error is too many. This doesn't really stress your CPU. If it won't run remove all but one RAM stick.

A update. I was unable to attempt the memory test. The computer stopped responding. I obtained a mother board, swapped the components and nothing happened at power on. Not even a bios boot. I am thinking that I will have to send it in to DELL and let them find out what is up! Or buy a new computer. Either way, Dollar Sign's.
Thank you for your time and effort.

Do you have more then one RAM? Have you tried to remove RAM one by one to see if it workes?

Yes I have 4 mem sticks. 2 128mb and 2 512mb. I know they have to run in pairs so I would have to remove both I suppose. So no I didnt remove them. I will try that. Thank you for your time.

RAM. check your mb guide. But generally, if you are running TWO sticks you pair them; your mb will run with just one. Unplug your hdd and see if BIOS will POSt without it, likewise any other cards [you may need the video card if there is no integrated graphics on the mb..:)].
Add the hdd, see if it is recognised by BIOS.

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Try re-installing your xp copy with your cd

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