and see if it would bring up the classic login screen? If so, I'd try to just type "administrator" (without quotes) in the username box and just press Enter without entering a password. Unless Dell burned something into their image, that might work. If so, create your own users accounts including at least one administrator account. Password protect the built in administrator account as well.
I am reinstalling XP on my desktop, and the process went just as it was described in this helpful article:
I booted from the XP installation CD that had come with my Dell some time back, deleted the old XP partition, created and formatted a new one (NTFS), and began going through the XP installation process.
I was asked about my regional and language preferences, but the next steps - setting up the name of the computer, entering the admin password, network preferences, etc. (from this step onwards: http://pcsupport.about.com/od/operatingsystems/ss/instxpclean2_8.htm) - none of this happened.
Instead, the installation finished on its own, the PC rebooted, and I was sent to the blue Welcome/Login screen that had no user names to click on... Very frustrating. Any ideas about how this might be fixed?