An interesting thought. But there's no such thing as a "generic registry". It's dependent on your PC, on the edition of Windows, on the service pack level and on the Windows updates done.
But http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307545 shows the idea works.
My main (online) PC is now 5 years old. It was well-specified at the time I bought it, so hardware-wise I'm still entirely comfortable with it. But inevitably after 5 years hard cyber life, the Windows installation is creaking badly in various ways. In conventional terms, a re-install is overdue, but most of us postpone that evil day, don't we.
It has occurred to me: is there a short cut via the registry ? If I imported a generic newly-installed XP registry, would I have escaped all the accumulated gunk and detritus ? OK. I'd then have to reinstall all the software I really wanted, and probably my online connection, but I could have everything I needed to do so lined up on the hard-drive before I wielded the knife.
Would this work ? If, so are there any downsides I need to consider?
And speculating further: could having a menu of registries be a way of in effect having a number of different set-ups (each simpler, more focussed on particular tasks) using the same machine ?
Shall be interested to hear people's thoughts on this .....