I know there have been many threads on this. I looked them up, but most were too specific to help.

I'll reprint the message just in case:

We apologize for the inconvenience, but Windows did not start successfully. A recent hardware or software change might have caused this.

If your computer stopped responding, restarted unexpectedly, or was automatically shut down to protect your files and folders choose Last Known Good Configuration to revert to the most recent settings that worked.

If a previous starup attempt was interrupted due to a power failure or because the Power or REset button was pressed, or if you aren't sure what caused the problem, choose Start Windows Normally.

Safe Mode
Safe Mode With Networking
Safe Mode With Command Prompt

Last Known Good Configuration (your most recent setting that worked)

Start Windows Normally

I have tried them all, to no avail. Just before this happened a message box kept coming up, telling me that windows needed to update some software and restart. I kept clicking restart later until I left and came back to find it in its current state. So obviously the updated software is causing the problem.


If you have a windows install cd, set your BIOS to boot first from cd and then do a Repair.

I have the windows install cd from my main computer, but the problem is occuring on my laptop. Will it still work?

You can use an OEM or M$ XP install disk to do the repair job, but NOT an OEM Restore disk. The install disk should be the same version.. eg. SP2. Unfortunately you have to download all the windows updates again. By the way, don't go into the Repair an XP installation with Recovery Console option, you need to enter Setup. Your OS should be detected and you would then be given the option to Repair it. If you don't get the Repair option at this stage then a new installation is next, but this means you must reinstall all your 3rd party software again.

Btw, it does not have to be your disk, just the right disk as above.

Excellent, thank you.

One more question: how the hell does something like this come to happen?

it's windows. dunno, luck of the draw... often an OS can get interrupted by some glitch while it's doing a vital task.... I personally do not like online updating of software - i prefer to download the files and install manually if it is an option.... Was that a windows security update restart that killed your sys?
Come back with how you get on...

a recent hardware or software change might have caused this

a recent hardware or software change might have caused this