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I'm assuming two machines are involved, the one you're installing to, and a second one you used to burn the CD's. I'm assuming this because I can't figure out why the machine that did the burning wouldn't be able to read it's own creations.
Do you know that the CD on the old machine actually works? Try reading several different CD. If that doesn't work, try a CD drive cleaner and check the ribbon and power cables.
Is the BIOS on the old one set to boot from CD?
Depending on the age of the CD drive, you may need to specify Mode 1 when you burn your CD's. Some older drives can't read CD's burnt with the Mode 2 setting many newer programs have as the default.
i've never used the winXP burner. i would guess there's an option somewhere to burn the files as images, though. check through the menus.
in windows i've used Nero 5.x with good success. it came with my cd burner, but otherwise it's not freeware. if you search google you might find a windoze freeware burner. check through XP first for the image burning option, though.