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Tap the F8 Key as soon as the Laptop is powered on, keep tapping it till it brings you to Boot Choice Menu Options.. Options such as: Safe Mode, Safe Mode w/ Networking, Last Known Good Config..etc... are listed here..
Press and hold the F12 Key If You Need To Get To Boot Choices.. Such As Boot From CDrom, Boot From LAN, Boot From USB Device..
Try tapping the F5 or F8 key (could be either one) right after you power up. This should take you to a short text message with a couple of choices to continue; you'll find the Safe Mode option there which will prevent the continuation of the unsuccessful boot routine.If you can reach the Safe Mode, run Restore and go back to an earlier point in time, you may have to go back several times because if you have picked up some kind of malware, it may have been backed up with everything else. Unless it is a really smart bug, you might be able to circumvent it.
the pc is standing at command prompt, which means it is unable to find the boot.ini file required to boot into windows
When you say you pressed F8 did you keep pressing it until you got a menu saying Safe Mode,last known good configuration, start in VGA mode etc, if so use last known good configuration and let it reboot.
If still nothing then you will need the windows cd to perform a system repair.
What this means is there currently is not enough hard drive on the unit to boot up windows. If there's not enough free space on your hard drive, Windows won't open. Try accessing through Safe Mode and see if you can create the necessary room. Boot the system, start tapping F8, when the menu appears, select Safe Mode and press enter.