Reference: Rebuilding a Windows 7 Computer from "bare-metal" using OEM installation disks. This is not a step-by-step tutorial on how to build a new PC.
I rebuilt my main desktop computer from scratch today using OEM disks. This posting brings all of my favorite installation and setup tips into one article.
Windows 7 - Explorer Changes - Highly recommended
Windows 7 - Network Problems - The definitive fix for wireless drops
Windows 7 - Turn off UAC Nags on Icons
Windows 7 - Streamline Start Menus
Windows 7 - Cleanup Startup Programs
USB Drive Backup Speeds Slow - Recommended
Windows 7 - SP1 - Surprise, it may not be installed
WMP12 Audio CDs do not play in Car Stereo
Add 'Bit Rate' to Windows Explorer View
(Individual articles - from "Explorer Changes", above)
Windows 7 - Exposing the RUN command
Windows 7 - Show the MyComputer and Network Icons
Open Windows Explorer to Data directory
Optimizing Windows Paging / Swap Files - A bit nerdy and optional
Disk Imaging Cleanup steps - Do this when you are all done, before spinning the "golden" backup.