Well I have "given up" on the first course of action, and went ahead and zeroed out the entire 750G drive in prep to install XP, and then once done, 7.
So I inserted the XPSP2 disc, made 3 partitions, formatted one and started installing XP.
Do you want to guess what happened on the first reboot?
Yep, 7 had nothing to do with the error whatsoever, its still there
So it appears that it is likely a Sata driver issue, even though XP has NO trouble seeing the whole drive, and even partitioning it etc. Unless someone has some other idea on what is wrong here?
I checked the Bios at this point, and Sata Native Mode is actual disabled. So when 7 was installed prior, it was done under this suboptimal condition. It also means that if the Bios was running in IDE mode, that this is why XP has no trouble seeing anything, which would seem to rule out Sata issues at all.
I am just about ready to throw the laptop off my Condo roof, any help would be appreciated to figure out what the actual issue is here. This is why I didn't want to give up in the first place, since the actual problem is still there.
ps - Just for kicks, I am going to try slipstreaming XP with SP3 and Sata Driver, and try to start over AGAIN with Sata Native Mode enabled, but I really have my doubts this is going to work.
pss - XP disc has no scratches and worked 6 months ago
btw - oph crack is a free and very handy program to help you figure out what your admin password is if you forgot, and has a few other handy tools built in. During the first part of this process when I went to Recovery from the XP install disc and tried to go to command prompt, the stupid thing told me to put in an admin password (XP Pro) and just hitting enter would not work. oph crack did not find a password, so I still have no idea why this was even happening. Once, after restoring 7 and fooling around, I got into XP restore command prompt without the password prompt, but have forget how I did it now