I've searched the web for three days trying to figure something out. Posting as a last resort.
A few days ago, Vista would not boot on my Dell laptop. Ran startup repair - no help. No system restore points could be found (even though I had set some in the past). Appeared to be booting to the recovery partition, but could not find any Windows installs. I did all I knew how to do. Did some internet research, tried some things, no solutions.
Somewhere as a result of one of the attempts (not sure which one), Vista is now in what seems to be a boot loop and will only boot to the stand alone memory test/diagnostics menu. (It's a window with "Choose an Option" in the header, and three choices: Test Memory, Test System, Exit). Test Memory, runs the memory test (it passes). Test System, runs the diagnostic test (it passes). Exit, exits the diagnostic test menu and reboots the system which goes back to the diagnostic test menu.
F8 not working. F12 takes me to BIOS, but I can't boot from disc/USB, it keeps going back to the test menu. I cannot bypass it.
Any ideas? I'm helpless and clueless.