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windows services- printer spool stopped

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I have been using this computer and printer for over a year with no problems, now windows does not recognize the printer. When I try to "add a printer" or install the printer drivers from the installation cd I am prevented from doing so because "the printer spool service is stopped." I have gone thru the control panel to the list of services and started and restarted this service many times (setting is on automatic). It always shows on the list as started, but when I then try to install the printer I get a message that the service has stopped. It is as if the service is shutting itself down. I use windows xp (service pack 2) home.
Incidental intelligence-About a week ago windows would not let me sign on, instead I got a diglog box indicating I had to verify windows as if it was new. I entered the product key, which was not recognized and actually had to phone microsoft and get a code to enter before I could sign in. I am thinking there might be some instability in windows, but I really don't want to reinstall windows. Can anybody help with this vexing problem?
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