Black Screen with mouse pointer at boot, no Ctrl-Alt-Del or Safe Mode - help!

All of a sudden, Vista fails to boot (it's apparently common - the Black Screen with Mouse Pointer issue, which comes up for me before I get to a logon screen).  Ctrl-Alt-Del does nothing at this screen, nor any other key combo I can think of.  One of my first thoughts was to run repair off the Vista CD, but Vista is on a brand spankin new Sata drive, and I haven't been able to find a sata driver for My NForce3 chipset on my MSI K8N Neo2-f mobo from which to 'load driver'.  When I first installed Vista, I added the sata drive, whereas XP was running on my IDE drive.  I had to start the Vista install from XP so it could access the Sata drive - booting to the Vista CD didn't work as I couldn't find any driver with which to access the Sata drive.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated! Thanks...(and, reinstalling Vista is pretty low on the list of feasible options, with 4 young kids and a busy job.....)
Specs:
Vista Home Premium
MSI K8N Neo2-F mobo
AMD Athlon64 3500+ Venice cpu
2GB PC2700 DDR
ATI Radeon X850 Pro AGP video
Soundblaster Audigy 2ZS pci sound card (disabled in Vista and using the onboard AC'97 sound because of a low volume issue in Vista with the Audigy card)
IDE drive is a Western Dig Caviar SE 120GB with 8MB cache
Sata drive is a Seagate 250GB Serial ATA with 16MB cache
LVL 2
atyarAsked:
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nobusCommented:
can you shed some light on this ?  >>  it's apparently common - the Black Screen with Mouse Pointer issue  <<
it seems your system is not supported for Vista, no drivers , only XP :
http://global.msi.com.tw/index.php?func=downloaddetail&type=driver&maincat_no=1&prod_no=174
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atyarAuthor Commented:
Well, I can't argue there that it wasn't "made for Vista" - but I've had Vista installed now for about 1 month and it's been working happily on all counts (drivers all around).
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nobusCommented:
any comment on the first line?
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atyarAuthor Commented:
Oh - missed that, sorry.  When I first googled the issue to see if I could find a fix, I found *many* identical complaints by people (Vista booting up to a black screen and a mouse pointer).  Some people mention something about it being a 'minimal functionality' feature of Vista designed to thwart Vista pirate copies.  My Vista is 100% legit - I bought it at a local computer shop - an OEM Vista Home Premium full version.  Other people said they experience this black screen, but are able to Ctrl-Alt-Dlt and kill explorer.exe, then relaunch explorer.exe and move on.  Ctrl-Alt-Dlt does nothing at my black screen, nor any other key combination.  I even let it sit overnight at this screen last night, in case it was just some long delay in the boot process that it would eventually get past.  When I woke up this morning, it was sitting at the very same black screen....
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nobusCommented:
can you try any of these :
-a vista install on another partition or disk
-an xp install on another partition or disk
and if it occurs always, check if you have problems running from a live cd, like knoppix :
ftp://ftp.uni-kl.de/pub/linux/knoppix/KNOPPIX_V5.1.0CD-2006-12-30-EN.iso
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atyarAuthor Commented:
Well, I still have XP working as before on the IDE drive, so we're not without a computer.  At this point, as I'm not finding a solution, I'm looking into possibly ditching vista, if I can get it off without kebashing my XP install.....

I could run a repair install from the Vista DVD, but I haven't been able to find a working nforce3 sata driver to load while booting from the vista dvd - any ideas on that front?
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nobusCommented:
maybe this helps :  http://www.nvidia.com/Download/index.aspx?lang=en-us
so your XP works ok on the same setup? thenit is a driver problem, as you supposed
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atyarAuthor Commented:
well, unfortunately I've been to that page, and they don't list any nforce drivers prior to nforce4, and even then have publicly stated they aren't making an nforce3 driver for Vista.....
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atyarAuthor Commented:
ah well.....I killed Vista and got XP back to normal (recovery console, fixboot, fixmbr, format the vista sata drive).
Thanks for your efforts - guess I'll wait for Windows 7....
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nobusCommented:
ok, sorry to be of no more help
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Windows Vista

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