Patience is truly a necessity with this install!
hey there, I feel your pain on this issue, but I must ask: How long did you wait at this "Starting Windows" screen before you gave up and assumed the install was not going to complete? It has been my experience with the beta and RC that people are jumping the gun and assuming the install has stalled when in fact it is working in the background. In my case, I am very patient, yet I thought several times that the installation must have hung because even my DVD burner would spin completely down and there seemed to be NO ACTIVITY at all for at least 5 minutes!
I don't intend to seem rude. HONEST. I just know how I felt the first few times attempts at installing 7 RC1 and getting to that same point you were at. My first gut instinct told me that due to the virtually non-existant hard drive activity and the ridiculously long wait, the system must have quit responding. I couldn't have been more wrong!
To tell you the truth, this is a really stupid thing that Microsoft can and should fix before going 'gold' on 7. There needs to be some indication as to what the hell is going on during each phase of the install. Just popping up a blue background and that Vista-inspired revolving "working" circle (that replaced the old hour-glass), well... it tells the average user NOTHING! This will lead better than 90% of those old XP users out there to believe this new OS has stopped responding. Remember with XP there was a steady stream of data displayed across the bottom of the screen to indicate files were being unpacked and loaded, etc? Well, that was a valuable troubleshooting tool for some who actually could see which file, driver, etc., was causing XP installations to hang or stall. If nothing else, it did give the user a feeling or sense that things were actually working, even though it might have taken over an hour to install the old OS! This new OS does however install quite quickly by XP standards. I can say that my installs have never taken more than 30 minutes to full desktop. That includes 2 reboots.
Your situation may be unique...but my response to you is to do what I did....just be patient. It is hard to do, but we just don't have any other choice in the matter--courtesy of M$!
Best of luck. I finally overcame my issue with pre-loading (F6) RAID drivers for the ICH10R on my Gigabyte board. Windows 7 is running extremely well now and my two Velociraptors in RAID 0 are outperforming my buddies OCZ Vertex SSDs! IT DOES WORK.