I've now rebuilt my system from scratch twice and can't get rid of this problem: I can only boot Vista Ultimate reliably from the "Last Known Good Configuration". If I leave it to the default boot process, it spontaneously crashes a few seconds after the "Loading Vista" screen is displayed, then restarts (in an endless loop unless I intervene).
I guess I am very lucky that the last good config is perfectly OK and appears to be rock solid - but I would like to move on from this!
In case it's of interest:
1. Each time I have built the system, it has been from a "scorched earth" install, i.e. preceded by a format performed by the Vista installation. I also have Office 2007 Ultimate and many other bits and pieces and frankly I'd prefer not to have do do the complete install a third time. (Yes, I have partition images from various installation stages, but why bother going back to something that's known to be faulty?)
2. I've done a bit of research into "Control Set" hives and have 001, 002 and 004 (and Current, of course). In HKLM\System\Select, Current is 004, Deafult is 004 and Last Known Good is 004. Failed is 002. So if my Last Known Good, Default and Current Control sets are all the same (004), how does it even attempt to boot with the failed 002?
I tried doing a comparison of Control Sets 002 and 004 by exporting their hives and using Regdiff, but the output file weighed in at 11 Mb (!!) so it wasn't going to be very helpful (but this exercise did make it clear there are significant differences between the two - about 1Mb).
I'd be grateful for assistance from anyone more knowledgeable than me to either:
1. Figure out how to sort out the control sets so I can break out of this cycle; AND / OR
2. Identify the offending bit of the faulty control set (I'd really like to do this so I can do a complete rebuild and avoid this problem).
Or maybe it's as simple as removing the failed control set (002) and duplicating the working control set (004) and renaming it 002? Or is that a naive and illogical recipe for disaster?
Thanks heaps for your brainpower and assistance (and don't hesitate to request more info by reply post!)