What in Christ's name could be causing this?

OK, this is one of the weirdest things my PC has ever done.

Since a day or two ago, any time I insert a disc into the drive (and this includes mounting an image using PowerISO or the like), the installer for my HP All in One printer fires up, runs through the install program and goes away again. It is ungodly freaking irritating.

What the hell could be causing this?

Call a priest. Your system is clearly possessed by a demon of some kind.

I’ve run into this before, it involved a corrupted Windows Installer component. The Windows installer being something that’s not prone to fixing, I had to do a restore on the system. It was a pre-built machine, so I couldn’t do a “repair” install like I could on a machine with a proper XP disc. A repair install should be enough to fix the issue and will save you the hassle of reinstalling all of your stuff.

Soooooooooooo, I tried reinstalling XP last night. Unfortunately, the setup program now freezes during the ‘Installing Windows’ part. The program doesn’t look frozen - it still animates, but I left it on overnight and sure enough when I got up today it still read ‘33 minutes remaining’. A hard reset brings me to the exact same point, as setup just picks up where it left off.

How fucked am I? Do I have any options at this point?

Uh oh. Just did a bit more research. XP never gave me an option to do a repair install. The two options were ‘new install’ and ‘upgrade install’. I assumed upgrade was Windows’ fucked up way of telling me about a repair install.

You never said what kind of Windows disc you had. The process for initiating a repair install involves booting with the disc in the drive, not initiating it from within Windows, which I suspect is what you did.

Wipe partitions, recreate, install. I think that system is broken beyond repair.

Reboot and let it get stuck a few more times – it’ll infer that whatever it was just trying to do didn’t work, and will try to move on to the next thing; sometimes it can get past whatever is hanging it up.

Don’t get your hopes up, but it’s worth a shot.