My first problem turned out to be with the install disc itself. I kept getting error messages when the installer was expanding the files, saying that certain files couldn't be located. It finally occured to me to look at the disc itself which, it turned out, came with a "factory-installed" thumb print . A couple of minutes of disc cleaning solved that mystery.
My second problem was trickier --- the install kept blue screening. After doing some searching on the web I suspected I might have a faulty stick of RAM and, sure enough, that seems to have been the problem. I was attempting the install with 4GB, and ended up pulling one of the sticks to get the install to complete. Afterwards I put the suspect stick back in and am getting occasional blue screens that cite memory problems (the new memory is in the mail).
I think it's interesting that I didn't have consistent problems when running at 32-bit, although this may explain the rare but mysterious blue screens I did encounter over the past several months (I make so many hardware swaps it's hard to pinpoint things). From what I've read on the web 64-bit addresses a different part of the RAM, or something like that --- I figure you RAM experts know what that means.
What I learned is this:
1) If you're getting error messages about missing files during an OS install check the disc for cleanliness first, it may be a simple fix, and;
2) Win7 64-bit is a lot less tolerant of iffy RAM, so if you're getting blue screens try running memtest to see if your memory is the problem.
I don't know if I missed anything else important at this stage...
This post has been edited by compnovo: 09 December 2011 - 10:03 AM