I just wanted to let everyone know what finally ended up happening with my Windows 7 install last week.
I ended up ripping out nearly every piece of hardware from the machine and installing it with only the single hard drive it was going onto and the DVD drive it was coming from in the box. Sure enough, as soon as I did that it started up like a champ. It installed in about 20 minutes and another 10 after that and I had updated everything through Windows Update. After that I started adding hardware back in and it found, recognized and configured everything correctly, without issue. After doing some more digging and prodding people on the technet forums it turns out that Windows 7 (and partially Vista as well) has a real nasty issue with multiple hard drives, especially those with different interfaces and formats.
My advice to anyone (Chris) building a machine is that you put in a single hard drive, install Windows 7, then finish you build. Anything more than that and it could become a real pain in the ass.
On the flipside, Windows 7 is actually running great. I installed Steam, a couple older games, all my apps, and it’s really humming along. Direct X 10 seems to be doing great, all the games look good, no performance hits compared to XP (which was an issue with Vista). I’m actually liking it quite a bit.
So, I wish I could say that the install was painless, far from it, but at least the actual day to day operation of the OS seems to be pretty solid.