NEVER try creating a ghost or sysprep image with your source computer’s HAL set to Standard PC!
I wish I had noticed this critical point in documentation earlier:
You can deploy a Sysprep image created on a computer that uses a Standard PC, Non-ACPI PIC HAL (Hal.dll) to a computer that uses the following HAL types:
• Standard PC, Non-ACPI PIC HAL (Hal.dll)
Cheers Microsoft, no wonder I was having so much trouble trying to get the image to work properly!
The problem arose when I thought I would be clever and prepare the Ghost Image on VMWare, then Sysprep it out using Mysysprep to select the right HAL type, but then wasted all this time trying to get it to work when it was because the VMWare image had set the HAL to Standard PC (which I was aware of, but I thought that MySysprep was able to change the HAL on deployment). I am currently running a Repair Install of XPSP3, hoping that maybe this time I will get a little further.