I found out here in AO that there was an issue regarding dell laptops and winxp sp2:
I followed Dell's instructions and updated the BIOS to the latest version and then installed sp2. I am sure this laptop is free of virus because of a fully updated Norton AV, scans from Trendmicro's housecall and its got no spyware(spybot + adaware). Thing is boot time and overall performance of the laptop is about 10 times slower than it used to be. Could sp2 be the cause?