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Try booting in safe mode by hitting F8 every second after you turn it on
until the boot screen comes up. Then select "safe mode" If it loads up in safe mode then delete the graphics driver from Device Manager.
If you were able to delete the driver in Device manager then reboot and get the driver from here: http://www.dell.com/support/drivers/us/en/04
Your friend probably tried to replace 3 .dll files so that you can use custom themes for whatever OS is installed on the computer. The only way to fix this is to recover the computer and restore to factory settings.
When you boot the computer hit escape to access the boot menu. See if there is a recovery manager option, and in there, a restore to factory settings option. (Also, hitting F11 works). If you have no option like this (this is essentially booting without a disk) you'll need a copy of your system restore disks that came with the computer.
Sounds like an infection. Your best bet is to start it and keep pressing F8 for safe mode. Once in there do a restore point. If that fails im sorry to say it may be a complete reinstall with a disk...Hope this helps....
It sounds like you need to install a video driver. You'll want to go to www.hp.com, go to their support section, and download the driver for your particular PC. As long as you know the model number of your PC, you should be able to find it.
Keep in mind that Win98 driver support is harder to find lately - you may want to consider upgrading to a more recent and better-supported OS eventually.
You can try to select safe mode and do a system restore (Start-all programs-accessories-system tools-system restore) choosing the date when your laptop was working properly. If you are using Vista, you would see if you had a Windows Update or other such software changes. It is like undoing that but there would be no changes with your personal data. If your laptop works faster after that, please do not have the same software or update again. Hope this helps. Thank you.