After a Repair will I still be able to open previously installed programs to save my work stuff?
select the proper boot device despite pointing it to the correct HDD.
Sounds like your MBR or boot files are corrupt.
Boot from the XP CD to recovery console and at the c:\windows propmt type fixboot
Fixboot Writes a new partition boot sector onto the specified partition.
You could also try fixmbr
Fixmbr Repairs the master boot record of the specified disk.