Which live CD is recommended for recovery? What I'd like is to have as
many disk analysis tools at hand just in case.

There are a lot to choose from, as you can see from this list:

I believe one of two things has happened: the anti virus placed a system
file in the vault, or running windows update the "genuine windows
disadvantage tool" disabled the system because it may have been pirate
(don't know).

AFAIK the Windows Genuine Advantage never prevents you from booting
your machine. It will annoy you with pop-ups about your license (or
lack of it). Fortunately, you can disable the pop-ups. Keep in mind
that a non-legit Windows machine can only perform the Security
updates, but cannot perform the other Windows Updates. This can be
confusing for a technologically challenged user.

So, I need to recover data to some other machine, and then see if I can
recover the system file without a full reinstall.

Do you have a USB drive? Can you mount it on the crippled Windows Box?
If so, then I would suggest that you backup the user's data, format
the crippled box's disk drive and do a clean Windows install. After
all, there probably was a virus on this box. Are you sure you want to
take chances?

Good luck,

David Robillard
UNIX systems administrator & Oracle DBA
CISSP, RHCE & Sun Certified Security Administrator
Montreal: +1 514 966 0122
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