So I started out with a perfectly good, brand new Inspiron 1720 with Vista Home Premium pre-installed, which my wife and I purchased for her to use as her primary computer. It worked fine. Except that it was Vista, and like seemingly 99% of the world my wife grew to dislike Vista, so we did the research and decided it would be a good idea to dual boot with XP Home, which the idea being that we would use exclusively XP until it someday became advisable or necessary to give Vista another chance.
I purchased an XP Home with SP2 DVD and attempted to dual boot. Then the roadblocks started. Can't detect the disk drives. So I downloaded drivers, bought a USB floppy drive and did the F6 thing. Not enough partitions to install XP because it was a Dell with Media Direct. So I deleted Media Direct and its partitions and re-installed XP. And so on. And then it finally happened -- XP at last completed the install process, the Windows XP splash screen appeared . . . and for the briefest moment a BSOD flashed and then the system rebooted. The BSOD was so quick, it took me about 15 tries of staring right where the code appears just to make out the last two characters: 7B.
So with XP utterly unusable, I popped in the Vista DVD to repair the Vista bootloader. It worked fine. I used a utility which I have since learned I shouldn't have used and tried to set up a dual boot. Got the dual boot menu just fine, but if I selected XP . . . 7B.
Hours turned into nights. No cure for the 7B error. Then, one night, other errors started to occur within Vista. Before long Vista was unusable as well. It couldn't last 5 minutes after startup before a BSOD appeared, with errors like 24, 50, and something involving a C. I can't even remember them all at this point.
So now I had an XP installation that won't boot, and a Vista installation that I had shepherded from working just fine to unusable. I tried to repair Vista, but to no avail. I ran CHKDSK, which told me the disk was just fine.
At the end of my rope, with no functioning OS at all, I decided to try formatting the entire drive and installing only XP. It was a drastic step that I had been trying to avoid, but that time had come.
So tonight I did that. Everything worked fine. I formatted the entire drive as a new partition and installed XP. It completed the installation process and rebooted. The XP splash screen appeared . . . and then the 7B BSOD returned for an instant and then the system rebooted. Again and again and again. Even with a completely formatted hard drive and only XP, I could not get the 7B error to go away.
So now I come before you seeking help. I have taken my wife's computer from a perfectly-functioning Vista system to a coaster with an unbootable XP Home installation.
Any theories on what I need to do to get it working again? Thanks in advance for your help. If there is information you need that I haven't included, please let me know and I'll be glad to supply.