If you don't manage to fix it, before you finally put it in the bin try installing Linux instead of or alongside Windows. If maleware has got on your system (presumably you have done a full scan with an up to date antivirus program) it wont affect Linux. As you have geeky friends it might be an idea to get one of them to help you, as Linux on early laptops could sometimes be problematic.
As a Linux newbie I would recommend Linux Mint, it will run both as an install and directly from your CD drive so you can try it out before installing it. You need Bios to be set to boot from CD before your hard disk but your geeky friend will know how to do that, then just put the CD in your CD drive and reboot. Don't bother with trying to download it yourself and creating an iso image, just buy a CD. There are usually one or two good Linux people on eBay who will sell you a CD for a pound or so, just to cover the cost of the disk and postage. See:http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Linux-Mint-10 ... 0701385225
If you order from here don't forget to specify the 32 bit version, as he ships the 64 bit version by default.