Why when trying to boot into safemode, is my only option Windows Vista?

I have something I've never seen before.  I have an XP Pro SP3 on a networked computer where someone decided to play games and surf the net!.  The next day, nothing worked, desktop icons were there but wouldn't open, nothing would open anywhere in the computer.  I booted into safe mode and the only option I had was "Windows Vista!"  This computer never had Vista on it.  I finally got into safemode through msconfig, no icons showed up at all, but I was able to, through task manager, start tasks and maneuver around the computer, and was actually able to run combofix.  I wasn't really sure this was a virus, but thought couldn't hurt.  Didn't seem combofix found anything, but it did take me to restore, and I was able to restore to an earlier date.  Computer is working now, ran every virus scanner I could think of, came up with absolutely nothing.  The only curious thing is when I go into safemode using F8, I get the same thing....no safemode options, only Windows Vista.  If I go ahead and choose this only option, it takes me to XP as it should.  I searched the knowledge base and have not found anyone who has come across this before.  Does anyone know what might have happened, and, more importantly, do you think this computer is ok as it seems to be?  I can still boot into safemode through msconfig if I needed to, and I get all the appropriate options.    I don't know that I need to "fix" anything any more, just really need to know what this person might have or might not have done.  Thanks in advance for your input!
lpelletier_ncssAsked:
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BCipolloneCommented:
You have to select windows vista then immediately spam F8 and then it should bring up the safe mode options
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lpelletier_ncssAuthor Commented:
Thanks!  That did work.  Do you know why or how Windows Vista got on there in the first place.  This only started after that person was doing on the computer what he shouldn't have been doing.  
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LeeTutorretiredCommented:
Have you verified that the file structure is actually that of XP, and not Vista?  For example, is there still a REAL folder called Documents and Settings and not a "junction point" called that instead?  Is there NOT a folder called Users (which is what Vista uses instead of Documents and Settings)?

The only thing I can think of that MAY have caused your problem is:  1) some user edited the hidden file boot.ini and changed it from reading Windows XP to Windows Vista instead;  or 2) perhaps someone used a Vista repair disk to correct some problem or other and this caused the boot files to be messed up.
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lpelletier_ncssAuthor Commented:
Yes, the file structure is that of XP, a REAL Documents and Settings folder and no users folder.  If the boot.ini file has been edited or "messed up" in some way, and this computer seems to be working perfectly fine, is it safe to just leave it the way it is, or will I run into more serious problems in the future?  I don't know how to edit or even look at the boot.ini file.
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LeeTutorretiredCommented:
The only problem you might encounter is in causing confusion to the users of the computer who might need for some reason or other to enter safe mode.  As for how to see and edit boot.ini:

Boot.ini is a "superhidden" file in the root directory of the System drive/partition.  In order to see it, you need to click on the Tools menu of Windows Explorer, select Folder Options, click on the View tab, put a dot next to Show hidden files and folder, and also remove the check marks next to Hide protected Operating System file (recommended), and next to Hide extensions for known file types.  Then you can edit it as described in this Microsoft Knowledge Base article:

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;289022
HOW TO: Edit the Boot.ini File in Windows XP

Another useful article on Boot.ini:

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;314081
The Purpose of the Boot.ini File in Windows XP

Another simple way to modify Boot.ini is through the Microsoft Configuration utility:

Go to Start > Run > type MSCONFIG and click OK  > on the boot.ini Tab > Check Boot Paths button
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lpelletier_ncssAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the tip on getting me into safemode BCipallone!
And thanks for all the other additional info Lee Tutor.  Check the boot path in msconfig, and all is ok, so not going to worry about it any longer.  No one else will get confused by trying to go into safemode as their's only 1 user on this computer and he knows absolutely nothing.  Didn't even know the term Vista!  Thanks again and have a great day!
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BCipolloneCommented:
Ouch you guys totally killed my points on that one.. lol
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