Computer will not boot Windows XP install CD (Dell Precision Workstation)

I have a Dell Precision 380 desktop workstation that I need to nuke and pave. The computer will boot a CD-R (and 'ultimate boot CD') but it will not boot Windows XP Dell OEM CDs. I have a disc with SP2 and SP3, and neither will boot. A Dell OEM Vista SP1 DVD will boot.

When I force the computer to boot from the Windows CDs (via F12) it prints a message similar to, "Cannot boot from this device". That's not the exact message, I didn't write it down and now I'm not in front of the computer.

I tested the Windows XP SP3 disc on another computer and it booted to the disc just fine. This is the only optical drive in the computer. I upgraded the firmware on the optical drive in case that might have been the problem, but it made no difference. I think that the computer has been reformatted before, because the Dell restore partition is not a boot option from the F12 menu.
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dbruntonConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I'd suspect a dirty or damaged XP CD.

Try another CD drive in the machine as well.  The present one may just be a little finicky.
MidnightOneConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I was having a similar problem with a Dell Optiplex that ended up being a stuck spindle on the CD-ROM drive itself.
Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software EngineerCommented:
I believe dbrunton has the core of the problem in hand -- a CD drive that's almost, but not quite working.  I have seen a drive like that, and so swapping the drive out is certainly the first thing to try.

If you're not compelled to chase the reason that the system won't boot from the CD, I'd say boot XP setup from the floppy disk set -- that is, provided that the system has a bootable floppy disk drive.  Microsoft addresses the problem of systems that can't boot from the XP distribution CDs in this KnowledgeBase article:

There are (at least) six different versions of the install diskettes, and which one is used depends on the release level of the XP distribution CD.
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Since you apparently have access to other PCs, after you try booting from a different CD, try swapping drives with one that seems to work fine, get the job done, and replace the drives where they came from.
it might be the the cd is demage or the cd drive is not working properly. try using other cd or dvd drive to read those disc, if it able to read then your cd drive on tour dell is not working properly!
just a sugestion since you have access to other PC. You say that the XP-SP3 OEM work on another PC, did you try to swap the optical drive from the known working with the problematic one?
Might be that the optical drive in your dell going south slowly.
Yeah.  That's what I suggested.
Indeed splait.... did not see your post for some reason :)
pixelchefAuthor Commented:
Hello everyone, just checking back in...

I was able to reformat the computer with the help of an optical drive from another computer. After reformatting, this drive still will not read the Windows CD, but it will read a CD-RW that I burned. To me, it sounds like the optical drive is at fault, and I will replace it.

Thank you everyone for your help.
Great!  Glad you got the job done!
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