I am posting this as a possible
solution only, based on the myriad hardware\software configurations which could influence the outcome of a SYSPREP exercise:
I helped a friend upgrade his buggy mainboard\CPU. The old and new mainboards both
chipsets so I hoped we might avoid SYSPREP,,,. Alas, it was not to be, so after tripping over the WMPNETWK.EXE problem, we finally got an OOBE
SYSPREP to run through to completion.
We placed the prepped hard-drive into the rebuilt system and.... it halted with the dreaded 'Windows could not finish customizing your machine
' error, followed by 'Will continue after restart
So - in the pursuit of insanity we re-booted 3 times and got the same gut-wrenching result.
We then tried Safe Mode only to be informed that this process cannot be done in Safe Mode.
In total desperation, I re-booted the machine and kept the LEFT-SHIFT key depressed.
I remember this from Windows 95 days of preventing startup items from interfering with problematic boot issues,,, and would you believe it - IT ACTUALLY WORKED
The PC is now up and running perfectly after updating drivers
I cannot guarantee that this will work for everyone experiencing these startup errors, but what have you got to lose by trying? After all the alternative is several hours of format\reloading Windows7 + apps + everything else....