thanks all for information
The Recovery CDs are Windows Xp Home, plus tons of programs you likely won't use. It doesn't say Windows on the CD, and the linked instructions make it seem that you need a seperate windows CD. The computer's slow of course considering the specs, but usable.
I formatted with a plain generic XP Pro CD because it omits all of the add-on Sony/etc programs, but it was slow and freezing up. Maybe my CDs are damaged (no errors popped up though) or that I needed the Sony Shared Library to install the drivers (it said they installed properly without SSL though).
In case this actually helps anyone or I have to reformat and forget:
Boot from System Recovery CD#1 (If don't have this and can't get it free/cheap, and any other OS you try isn't working well, might be better off getting a different computer at around the cost of the CDs). Then CD2 then CD3 and Windows is installed in only 15 mins.
Once windows starts, the CD driver opens itself and says insert the Application Recovery CD1 (all the Apps are already installed though from the other CDs, I dunno what the Application CD does, tried not using it to keep it simple but the system was slow and had to start from scratch again).
Next, install Sony Shared Library from the original driver CD. The rest of the drivers are all available with later versions from sony online and the CD ones don't seem to even install. I couldn't find SSL for this model online, maybe Sony will email it. SSL is most likely needed for the drivers to install right and/or OS function right.
Next, had to get SP2 to get SP3 to get IE to get to sony's site for the drivers for this model without it/google crashing.
Next, installed drivers from sony's site.
Next, ran windows update
Next, installed Norton. I know it's slowing the system a lot, but i trust it.
Next, gotta be careful which of the many pre-installed, mostly obsolete, programs to disable/remove to free up CPU. Some are named that you'd think to delete them, but the OS is dependent on them cause I deleted something and had to reformat again.
Might need to dload older version of Google Earth if can't run current.
Change heatsink compound, disable windows messanger, disable GoogleUpdateTaskMachineCore, and other tweaks that will hold over untill getting a better computer.