I'm using XP home with the most recent service pack.
My wife has lately taken to downloading sewing patterns, and when she tried to move one from C: to a slave drive, Avira gave a virus or malware notification, asking if she would like to remove. She hit yes, and she tells me that it repeated the prompt several times. (Don't know if this is relevant, but..) afterwards, she tried to print some things that would not print. The computer shows it in the queue but it would not print. She noticed that the computer was running poorly, so she decided to use Advanced Spyware Remover to scan for and remove any problems, and then Advanced SystemCare 4 to try to address the performance. This scan took about 5 hours or so, and was no longer showing signs of progressing, so she stopped it and logged off to retry it the next day. When she logged off, the screen went black, with an active mouse cursor, but would not do anything else. She held the power button to turn off the system and went to bed.
All of that brings us to where we are now. Now, when you turn the computer on, it turns on to a black screen with a white underscore text cursor in the top left corner of the screen. Holding Ctrl Alt Del resets the computer and puts it through the BIOS startup, but when it goes through its test, it returns to the black screen. I'm unable to load into Safe mode; holding F8 doesn't do anything. I can enter the BIOS screen, and I can change the boot menu, but I have no windows options.
So far, I've restored the BIOS to it's default settings. Using the windows disc, I've tried to boot from the disc, and gone into the Recovery Console, but I've not changed anything big for fear of screwing something up. I have done one thing from another site - I copied from the windows disk some registry items to a restore point folder (Sam, .default, .. a couple others, which I don't remember.) Those didn't change anything. I did do a chkdsk /p /r.
All of this I did before finding this site; after being referenced to your repair page, I've also tried to repair my windows xp installation. It did find my installation, and when it had to restart, it loaded right back into the blinking screen. I thought maybe it was relevant to my boot order, because I had not changed my boot order in the bios to cd first, but only through the F11 option. So I restarted my computer, did another repair (which it didn't like - it mentioned that I had recently tried to repair it), and made sure to pay attention when it restarted to boot from the cd again. When it came back into the setup screen, it was as though I was at square one without having tried to repair.
I have also checked in my bios to verify that my hardware is recognized. The two hard drives, A drive, and cd drive are fine, but I confess, I don't know how to check if it's seeing my Ram.
One last thing - the laptop I'm using right now does not have a floppy drive.. The crashed one does. Thanks for your time!