Ok. I'm an old dog at this and have never encountered this situation before.
I decided to a clean install of Win XP Pro on my Compaq laptop *after* deleting the primary partition using BootIT NG.
After reinstalling WinXP SP1, the C: drive is now the E: drive.
Just a couple of things you can rule out off the bat:
1. I only have one hard drive in this laptop and its on the primary IDE controller.
2. There are no other devices except the floppy drive and CDRom/DVD drive (D:)
3. I cannot change the drive designation using the windows management console as e: is the boot drive for WinXP. The Disk Manager component will not let me change it.
4. The registry hack on HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices recommended by Microsoft to change the drive letter doesn't work. Since this is a reinstall of Windows, system files point to the new drive letter E:. If I change it through the registry, the system will not boot.
5. I've attempted a 2nd re-install where I again deleted the primary partition. The only other partition on the hard drive is my 8MB EMB partition used by BooIT NG.
6. FYI, WinXP Home edition came pre-installed on the laptop orginally from Compaq. I'm installing WinXP pro off of a CD.
Is Windows leaving behind some mysterious secret partition that contains information on any previous intallations? Is there a secret backup copy of the registry somewhere? Or, is the installation process just incorrectly assigning drive letter E:, and if so, why?
I'm at the point that a reinstall is not a big deal. I really don't want to live with an E: drive as my primary drive as so much software wants to, by default, work with drive C:. And, I don't want to have to remember to type in E: before everything -- call me lazy.
Can I force the boot drive to be C: during the installation?