I've been on the phone to M$, Gateway...bla bla.......
Turns out my CD writer had corrupted the tiniest little XML file which halted the whole XP install process. Luckily a search on the web showed others are having the same problem and I found a replacement file (which was a measly 2k)
Now surfing in style with IE6
I tried out Linux quickly but need to download another 600MB ISO for everything to work properly.