on the subject that it may be better installed before the upgrade to SP2 "if it is poss and some claim they have" Others tried a custom install but still found problems.
Found the following,hope it may help. Jim.
Re: Office 97 does not install on XPSP2 system.
My company recently had this problem - I discovered the solution while trying to manually register 'htmlmarq.ocx'
Open regedit and browse to this key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options
You should see htmlmarq.ocx and htmlmm.ocx separate keys. Rename them to something else, ie. htmlmarq.tmp and htmlmm.tmp.
You will now be able to install Office 97, including the HTML option, without incident.
DISCLAIMER: I don't know what this section of the registery does or why these files were apparently blocked (intentionally or accidently), but this solution worked flawlessly for me. If you feel uncomfortable, I'm betting you can rename the keys back to the originals and office will work, but if you need to reinstall you'll possibly have to rename them again.