Question: After getting to the windows XP login page and picking a user to log in as, the computer starts to load its settings and then just sits there with a screen not showing any icons or task bars. If I hit ctrl alt del the task manager appears, but can get nothing else to work.
Answer: I would begin by trying to boot into Safe Mode and see if that works. Then I would check your startup items using msconfig and disable anything that you don't need to have running in the background just in case something is hanging on bootup.
Since you can get Task Manager to work you can kill select processes if you can tell what they are and see if you can terminate the one that is causing the computer to hang.
Another test would be to log in as a different user to see if there is some corruption with your profile. If that works then you may have to recreate your user and transfer you documents.
If you can get into Safe Mode another option is to perform a System Restore and go back to a date when the computer was working properly.
I would also check for spyware in Safe Mode to see if that is the cause of your problem as well.
Next you can try the Windows System File Checker to have it check your system files for problems.
If all else fails you can do a repair installation of Windows which will leave all of your programs and files intact while reinstalling Windows. I would do a backup of some sort if you can first just in case something goes wrong.