Just prior to loading the desktop in that screen that says: "Windows 7 Home Premium" at the bottom win 7 stops and every 5-7 seconds or so the screen goes black for less than a second and repeats that continually with out fully booting. What is that?
Wow sounds like windows is corrupted you may need to boot up with the Win 7 disk and attempt a repair.
littleleo, you are probably spot on. I believe its not worth messing with. The computer is 6 years old so have persuaded the owner to go with a new computer and not put any money in her old Gateway. I'll move her data over and save her some future grief.