You can try reinstalling ME without formatting... that's about your only option if you actually want to boot back to ME. The other option is removing the hard drive, connecting it to another computer and then copy the data from it that way.
Thanks for the reply. I didn't have a system install disk, all I have is the Sony restore disc image that would wipe the data anyway and revert me to a state prior to all the updates and software that was loaded over the last 8 years or so on the machine.
I did find a program called "TestDisk" that would run from the command prompt to find the two deleted files I mentioned in the original post.
I restored them, but it didn't resolve the problem, apparently by trying to do 2nd install of XP to use the"restore" function of the XP install routine as one of the fixes posted at Microsoft support (after the inital install was stopped) damaged the original Win ME system files.
I did finish the XP install as a new install (only choice I had) which allowed me to install to a new directory I named WinXP, which left the orignal WINDOWS files and other data on the drive.
The problem now is trying to use software and progams that the current clean system has no info in it's data bases.
I don't know if it is worth the trouble to attempt to manually go into the old USER and SYSTEM dat files to try to export software specific code to then import into the new XP dat files... what a mess!
I now have the 30 day activation period to decide if I want to keep XP on the computer, revert to Windows ME, or install a open source operating system.
At least I was able to move my personal data to a newly purchased Win 7 machine, that was most important.
The only reason I considered XP on the ME machine was because Explorer 6 would have problems loading many newly designed web sites, and I couldn't find an alternative browser to replace it with to run in WinME.
Surprisingly, the XP machine seems more prone to crashes than my ME machine ever did!
I'm not sure what I will do with my older machine at this point, it seems no matter what choices I make, they all will take a lot of manual intervention to end up with a workable system again.
The new Win 7 amazes me! These machine are way faster, but with all the bell, whistles, and "crap" that they display now, it seems to eat up all the speed and resources.
I seemed to get frustrated quite easily with the new interface, many of the new (dumbed down) user options and the necessity of doing some things with the newer versions of software on this system that "are no longer intuitive."
For example, I had to download a new drive for a Brother Laser printer. It came as a compressed file off the internet. I had to extract it prior to being able to install it.
It kept extracting into HIDDEN SYSTEM FOLDERS in the Administrator User folder! Who the heck is responsible for that debackle! Is the hidden folders a Microsoft attribute or a Brother software designer attribute?
Either way, quite a frustrating situation to deal with.
Once again, thanks for the reply, sorry about the "rant."
Don't use the wizard to extract files... or if you do, make sure you specify where you want the files. Personally, I just save the zip file to the desktop, open it, then drag the contents to another folder on the desktop (Or if the contents are already in a folder, I'll drag the folder). This way, I know where the extracted files are and I can do what I want with them after I've finished with them. Having used Vista since RC stage, I was already quite familiar with the interface. As for eating up the resources... well to be honest what's the point of having all those resources if you NEVER use them? Having 2GB of RAM is completely useless if you're always trying to get your usage below 1GB. If anything, Windows 7 uses your resources much more efficiently as it will actually make use of what you have... rather than letting it sit there for some day when you feel you might need it.
Chances are that you will have to reinstall your programs on the clean install of XP. I never would have recommended an upgrade... especially from ME (YUCK!)... clean installs are always the best option. Yeah, reinstalling programs is a pain in the ass... but unfortunately it's sometimes necessary.