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I would like to reinstall Windows XP on an existing partition. Loss of files does not matter because everything is safely backed up, but I do not want to lose installed programs. I have tried automatic repairs, but nothing seems to work. I essentially want my existing XP installation to be removed and replaced with loss of nothing else. How can I do this?

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What has gone awry? – tumchaaditya Oct 30 '13 at 1:34

I recently had to do this, so I'll describe this as best I can.

Assuming you have the original installation CD, boot from it. After it finishes loading the drivers, you will be taken to a selection. Press Enter.

Afterwards, the installation will ask you if you want to do a fresh install or a repair install. You want to repair. Select the partition that contains the Windows XP installation and follow the steps.

You might be asked to input your product key at one point of the process. The process is almost identical to the fresh installation process, barring that the CD actually removes most of the files present in %windir%.

This is probably more detailed than what I said here, so if you need additional guidance, use this guide.

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Thank you for your answer. One of the issues that I have here is the computer that I am trying to repair has Windows XP Home Edition, and I am trying to use my Windows XP Professional CD to repair. I managed to get the computer to boot after running automatic repair. The computer boots now, but whenever you try to open a program, it says "The procedure entry point EncodePointer could not be located in the dynamic link library KERNEL32.dll." Any ideas? I tried to install Windows XP Service Pack 3 as per what Google told me to do, and it screwed things up again and it no longer boots once again. – PWF Oct 30 '13 at 23:49
Stands to reason that, being different versions, they shouldn't be compatible with each other (which is true, as Home has several features missing/disabled). Either get a Home CD or do a clean install (just remember to backup everything before). However that wouldn't help you a lot, as you want to keep your programs. Is there any reason you can't install them after? – Doktoro Reichard Oct 31 '13 at 3:26
The reason that I cannot reinstall the programs is because this is my friend's computer, and for whatever reason he is unable to reinstall the programs. Would it be possible for me to do a "clean install" by booting the computer using an Ubuntu CD and deleting all the files in "C:\WINDOWS"? The registry files need to be kept, but all other OS files can be wiped as long as they do not also result in the removal of software. – PWF Oct 31 '13 at 9:24
As I learned recently, Windows stores the registry in a lot of files and places. Regardless, you shouldn't do that, as drivers and such stop being registered, and a lot of other problems might arise. Nothing grants you that programs store everything in the registry and that restoring it later will restore the settings. Please clarify the following: does your friend have the programs installation files' - If so, the best thing to do would be to have a clean slate. Afterwards the programs should install correctly. – Doktoro Reichard Oct 31 '13 at 16:55
For reference, I do have some "identical" problems, which is why I did this recently and coincidentally it's one of the reasons behind the linked answer (regarding some freak happening with Windows Installer) but for the moment they don't bug me. – Doktoro Reichard Oct 31 '13 at 16:56

The issue has been resolved. I offered my friend an upgrade to Windows 7, and he accepted. After the upgrade, the computer worked fine, the software was still there, and although the files were missing, I restored backups.

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There's no way to run any programs without installing. Only portable ones can run as-is. Some others can run with some registry and/or files modification/backup-restore. Some programs have installers but in fact do not write anything in the system so it can run like portable. A few cannot run anyway, even after restoring related registry keys and files. Reinstalling programs take no more than a few hours and then may be used for years. It's not worth spending time trying to get all programs to run after system reinstall. And you shouldn't stick with the ancient XP anymore

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