some slight progress but I still can't do thye activtion.
I did a system restore to yesterday. Desktop then opened normally
Can’t recall all the steps but eventually I installed Active-X and Office Genuine Advantage which were apparently essential .
Then arrived at a new window where I clicked Validate now and received mesage "Validation service is unable to determine whether this copy of Vista is genuine." and telling me to try again later. D4sktop backgroundturned black again.
My copy is genuine (bought with a new Dell machine from Dell 13 months ago).
I believe it's possible to do validation by phone. Anyone know the number to phone?