In short: Explorer will crash at every start, also in safe mode, so I can't get into Win2K any "normal" way. The OS was fully updated, so it didn't help to feed it an installation CD, and there is no space or money for upgrading it to XP Pro. W2K cannot upgrade to XP Home.
Can you try a repair install of Win2k by booting from the original CD ? It should keep programs and data intact but replace all Windows files to 'fresh install' status.
Explorer crashes are often caused by addons and shell extensions being corrupted - you could try this:
Boot up and ignore the fact that Explorer has crashed. Wait until the system finishes booting (look for no disc drive activity) and then use CTRL/ALT/DEL to bring up the TaskManager and use File>Run ... enter "Explorer" in the box without the quotes and hit return. Sometimes it will run without problems if it is restarted manually when the system has had time to finish booting other programs.
If it crashes again you need to disable any addins/extensions - try killing everything that doesn't look totally essential in the Process pane of TaskExplorer and also kill of any services you can from the task explorer by using File > Run and enter "Services.msc" - stop all non essential services (use your common sense there). This may allow you to start Explorer - if so you can install Process Explorer (from SysInternals
) and/or ShellEx (from NirSoft
). Those two utilities should help you track down the offending extensions causing the problems. ShellEx has saved my system a number of times in the past.