Without any CD, windows would attempt to start but fail before it reached any sort of login screen and restart itself. It seemed to go in a cycle of doing that (which at least had the screen with the Windows logo and little scrolling "loading" bar below it) and then (upon the restart) failing to get that far, telling me that "when trying to update a password, this return status indicates that the value provided as the current password is not correct" and restarting itself again.
I tried using my XP CD to repair the system, it asked which installation of Windows i wanted to repair and i said "1", then, of course, it asked for the administrator password, which i do not have. i left that blank and pressed enter and it said that the password was not valid.
I then tried to repair the installation by choosing (from the first blue-screen that pops up with the XP disc) to install XP, then (as i'd planned) it searched for and found the original installation and asked if i wanted to repair it or continue an installation. I chose to repair, it began to, and eventually got to a window that said
"Please wait while Setup copies files
to the Windows installation folder.
This might take several minutes to complete."
with a bar below. the most progress it made in my multiple attempts at this method was 19% (at the bottom right corner was "driver.cab" (an ironic file name i might add), then a new screen said that there was an error installing "dvdplay.exe". i would give more information on that window, but at this point (just as at other points in earlier attempts of this process (such as at 1%, 4% or 19%)) the computer simply turned completely off. at this point i decided to post this problem.
i also tried once to just re-install XP, and i came to a point where i pondered whether i should install it on a partition with the hope that i might be able to retrieve the product key of the original installation from the new one. then the computer blanked again. should i try this method again?
there are a few other problems i encountered once or twice in all of this, but mostly i'd like to know how to install XP with the CD i have (and beyond that how i could find the key of the original installation) and if the problem with the computer turning off randomely is simply a battery problem (throughout all of this the labtob is plugged into a wall outlet, so (in theory) that should be enough power. is this a battery issue?).
Thank you in advance to all who are willing to help!