Frizzel's basic description (also posted over in the XP forum is exactly the same as is happening on my wife's system. Hardware is an older Gateway, P3, 256mb, nothing fancy. OS is a recent format/reload of XP Pro because the OEM WinME was overwhelmed after all these years. Was working beautifully until this afternoon. Automatic updates is turned on so it downloaded Tuesday's MS patch cycle by itself when nobody was looking. Reportedly the screen was awry when she came home from the store, but seemed to find itself after a while. Little popup balloon said downloads are ready to install. No biggie. She checked email and some other stuff, then turned it off, but it gave a bunch of messages about installing things, don't power down til I say it is ok. Let it do its thing. Now it starts, goes through the BIOS POST, WinXP splash comes up for a bit, disk drive light blinks, things sorta stop and go quiet for a moment (seemingly normal), then a tiny blip of the drive light and screen goes completely black and all system lights go out. Then BIOS splash and POST again, followed by .... rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat...
Hit the F8 just after the POST to try the DOS screen boot options list. Safe Mode - same thing, round and round. Turned off the Autorestart on Error option and got some information from the blue screen. It said something about fatal error in session initialization at [string of memory address numbers]. Not helpful. Nothing else produced a different result. Definition of a neurotic - someone who does the same thing again and again expecting something different to happen.
So I got out the install CD and reinstalled the operating system. My DSL tech support call center always advises that when their network goes down, so why not for this one too. If nothing else, it occupies the customer for 40-50 minutes.
OS is reinstalled, and the system is running again. Appears to be no data loss, so far so good. Little balloon by the Windoze Security Center icon in the systray says downloading updates, please wait. After a bit, the balloon says 16 updates are ready to install, click here. Ok, clicked. It grinds away as one would expect. Finally ends with the usual "ya gotta restart" dialog. Ok, do it. BIOS POST (normal, expected that). WinXP splash (normal, expected that). After the little blue bar has diddled back and forth a few times, the screen goes black for a second (normal, expected that). Then the disk light blinks, all system lights go out, and then the BIOS splash. Rinse and repeat. ***, seems we've been here recently, haven't we?
Am in the process of the second OS reload of the evening, and this time will turn the freakin' Auto Updates OFF!!!
So, anybody have any other brilliant ideas? (Please humor me, I'm not in a very good mood at the moment...)