OK, so I've gone back to trying to use Windows 7 as my main OS, and as much as I hate it, I am forced to do so because certain features I need are not supported on XP.
As expected, it did a good job of reminding me just why I hate it so much. Here's the thing:
I am trying to preformat my hard drive using Acronis Disk Director so that I get best performance and organisation like this:
Partition 1 - Win 7 64, 40.0 GB (PRIMARY, ACTIVE), cluster size 4 kb
Partition 2 - Win 7 SWAP, 8.25 GB (LOGICAL), cluster size 4 kb
Partition 3 - Win XP Pro, 20.0 GB (PRIMARY), cluster size 4 kb
Partition 4 - Win XP SWAP, 8.25 GB (LOGICAL), cluster size 4 kb
Partition 5 - Games, 200 GB (LOGICAL), cluster size 64 kb
Partition 6 - Programs, 100 GB (LOGICAL), cluster size 64 kb
Partition 7 - Storage, 555 GB (LOGICAL), cluster size 64 kb
Now the formatting part works all fine, and Windows starts installing. After first restart, hangs on verifying DMI pool data. Now, this is the important bit> before you say it's a motherboard, cmos, etc. issue. The BIOS is fully updated. And here's the thing, when I pop in Hiren's boot CD, and select ' Boot Windows 7/Vista (BOOTMGR) ' it boots into windows fine! And it continues to install and run normally. The only issue , obviously, is I have to do this every restart - and that's not normal boot.
Now I am writing this from Mini XP in Hiren's boot CD at 640x480 resolution, because I don't know how to set this up simply.
I keep thinking it's the fact that I didn't leave it space for the 200 mb system reserved partition, but when I left 200 mb unallocated for it, it completely wiped out the last 3 partitions and left about 800 GB of unallocated space, leaving only 4 partitions. Sigh.
What is wrong here and is there any way to pull this off? Naturally when I let Windows do the formatting it installs and runs fine, but makes the System reserved partition first (I want to have my Windows partition on the outer edge of the hard drive for performance reasons) and I can't make more than 4 partitions in Windows without it turning my hard drive into a dynamic one. So much headache.