Widely noted at http://www.usbman.com is the need for the (person!) installer of XP to have:
1. Current BIOS.
2. USB in BIOS enabled.
3. Motherboard and possibly USB drivers installed.
None of these items are performed by Microsoft for most machines and certainly not items 1 and 2.
In closing USBMAN notes many issues with some onboard chipsets that can result in mis-identifying an USB device or failure.
If you can tell the make/model of the motherboard or chipset, I'd point to more specific USBMAN articles.
I have three PC's with XP Pro. Only one PC correctly recognized a K-Byte 128 mb Thumb drive when connected to USB port. How can I force the other machines to see the drive? Isn't recognized as new hardware and no drivers are needed or available.