Were it not for the random or as of late, infrequent clients who ask for desktop support for M$ stuff... I would be very happy to become functionally windoze illiterate ;)
A couple weeks ago, I spent many cycles repairing corrupted registries on two notebook computers.
Both machines were running XP Pro SP1 and were overcome with adware . Well, actually I was only able to to access one of the hard drives by conventional means. That is utilizing the Repair console, and copying the appropriate files to repair the hive.
After restoring the appropriate files to c:\windows\system32\.. I then had to go through the laborious task of installing the required updates and SpyBot S&D to prevent further registry corruption. The entire process took roughly and 2.5 hrs. Now, as I discussed earlier the second notebook could not be repaired by this method due to an unexplained error. I didn't really want to find out why the BSOD kernel HEX kernel errors kept interrupting the boot process.
Though, I don't profess to be operating systems architect, I've never understood why M$ decided to make their kernel and userspace one entity. When you're talking about intelligent design, that would be very haphazard at best. More on this later.
I simply formated the disk and restaged the machine. However, there was only one small problem of legacy data that had to be salvaged. No network services and legacy data on the hard disk.
Heh, time to unfurl the open source banner and reach into the trusty toolkit.
Enter Knoppix LiveCD.. For those of you who are not familiar, I would call it the ginzu knife for any PC tech. It reminds me of the earlier Linuxcare wallet mini-CDs. Yes, it should as they are both from the Debian family. These tools make data recovery quite easy, regardless of the underlying OS.
Essentially, you load the CD and make sure the BIOS is set to boot from CDROM drive. Knoppix easily identifies hardware. If you've only got one HD, then /dev/hda is the partition you'll need to mount.
Once I mounted the appropriate partition, I then setup the network services. As root run 'ifconfig eth0 IP up' and voila your then able to talk to your LAN. I copied all of the important docs from c:\
Afterwards, I blasted away the contents on the drive and installed XP SP2 (Don't ask me why).
I also took the opportunity to install 'clamwin' and 'OpenOffice' on the clients machine, as I didn't really feel like hunting around for licenses.
The last notebook, took much longer to resolve, as I was initially hell bent of fooling around with the stupid Registry and Repair Console.
Now regarding intelligent design.. If your OS has an extremely high vulnerability to trojans, virii and adware.. Why would you closely couple the userspace and kernel (Registry Hive)? I know there are tons of very wise people at Redmond (much smarter than I), but apparently this was overlooked. I suppose this one reason that Linux, FreeBSD and Mac OSX really shine. Sure it is very possible for you write a rogue script aimed specifically for Sendmail or some other FOSS application, but it is unlikely that you can subvert the entire kernel from that one script. In other words, there is no direct pipe from the userspace layer to the kernel layer. M$ adopts a very different model, which explains why the Registry (kernel) is so fragile and easily corrupted by random, illicit programs. When will they learn? Who knows. Maybe Vista (aka Longhorn) is a total rewrite. Only time will tell.