My work Thinkpad (a T61) was becoming a little crufty, so I decided to reinstall it from scratch. Here are a few lessons I learnt along the way:
Making a hot copy of your entire drive onto a USB hard disk with VMWare Converter beforehand is a great idea. This basically means you have your entire previous installation still bootable, so you can rescue any data or settings you forgot about, after you’ve done the reformat and reinstall. VMWare Converter is free.
Windows XP won’t install if the BIOS has the SATA controller set to AHCI mode - it won’t find the HD to install to. Read the install instructions for the SATA driver before installing Windows. Doing this without a floppy drive involves installing Service Pack 2 first (see below).
Windows, surprisingly, does not contain a driver that can work with the Ethernet controller. Have a copy of it ready on a USB stick.
The redistributable version of Service Pack 3 isn’t standalone, despite claims to the contrary; it pre-reqs. at least Service Pack 1. Windows Update won’t take you the whole way there, so it’s easiest to get the SP2 and SP3 standalones.
The USB ports will not operate at high speed until you install the Intel Chipset Device Software.