Well, if you keep the software the same, it really wouldn't be a "fresh" copy. What would be the point?
The point in reinstalling is to take care of old registry entries, old dlls and whatnot from software that is no longer used or installed. If you keep the exact same config, there probably would be little point in a reinstall.
YOu can try the "repair" console in XP, or if you wanna try the FAST thing microsoft offers to keep application settings and then reinstall the software, that might work too. However- only doing a real reinstall (including formatting the drive) will result in any real benefit-- and that FAST engine seems to only work on about 1/2 the settings.
If you want a fresh install, but keep all your desktop look / feel + documents:
(1) run the Files and Settings Transfer wizard. (2) Choose this as "the old machine" (3) When it asks for location, chose custom/your own. Point it at a folder somewhere.
It'll do it's thing.
Save the folder entirely, including the structure (USMTC.2 or something like that)
Then, wipe clean, do an install, and run the wizard as "NEW COMPUTER" and select "from a location" and chose what you just backed up.
Pro: You save all your documents and many (MS) program settings You keep your desktop choices/layout, and preserve regions/etc. Favorites & Cookies are saved
Con: It doesn't re-install programs, so you'll have to install them fresh. Really, only MS programs keep settings effectively, with a few exceptions Doing so -may- bring back screwups if it was MS programs that were your problem.
Con: It only saves about 1/2 of the settings in MS apps, and even then it often keeps stuff you don't care about. For example, it does not carry over your personal dictionary entries in Word (office) but will make sure to copy every single dialup networking shortcut ever. It doesn't seem to save many of the options for menu layout in MS apps either.
Basically it seems like it just copies the desktop, documents and favorites folders from your user folder, which anyone doing a backup would do manually anyway.
But, bottom line, there is no "easy" reinstall-- if you're wiping your OS, you should just be committed to doing it right, and reinstall software. If you have tons of settings you'd like to keep, just try backing up the .ini files of the apps as you go- chances are good your personal options will be in there.
Difficult - perhaps the best way is to do a fresh reinstall as others mentioned. When you get the settings and tweaks to your liking, use Norton Ghost to back up your drive. Later, you can restore a byte-perfect copy of your "golden" install without having to re-enter everything (except possibly your documents: they should probably be on a separate drive/partition anyways).