Mark came over, bringing his Compaq PC which has been behaving oddly. A little exploration revealed that all kinds of vital files had been deleted from the hard drive—some DLLs needed for Windows domains, a few key bits of Internet Explorer, and the whole of Outlook Express, for example.
After half an hour or so fiddling with the Network control panel, rebooting, then fiddling with it some more, I managed to get the machine to request an IP address and join the network. Once that had been achieved, it was relatively simple to siphon off all his data via a combination of SMB and FTP, and burn it all onto some CDs.
Then we tried booting from the recovery CD, only to find that the recovery CD merely starts a batch file on a separate partition of the hard drive. Yup, no Windows install CDs supplied, and you’ve guessed it, the recovery partition was hosed. So we deleted the data, and Mark’s going to take the machine back under warranty for the store to reformat the drive and reinstall Windows.
I’m not sure what the cause of the problem was, but it looks awfully like a malicious hacker or trojan horse program. I’m guessing ‘hacker’, because we’re talking about a non-firewalled Windows box on a cable modem connection, but with up-to-date virus scanner software.
Anyway, after seeing how much faster my 350MHz G4 is than his 600MHz PC, Mark now has Mac envy.