I took an educated guess because it kept happening at the same spot when loading the XP install. I thought it was the hard drive or motherboard.
But it turns out my heavily used but loved NEC 3500 DVD-RW drive was the culprit. After disconnecting it and swapping it for another much beloved Pioneer DVD-RW, everything has gone smoothly.
I never ran into this or many issues because I've hardly used this drive since moving it to another Desktop years ago. I actually wonder if it's the lack of usage that killed it, but in any case everything is great now.
We have memtest, SMART (smartctl in Linux) to give us an idea of how our memory and drives are doing, but there's nothing out there to see if an optical drive is faulty/causing crashes.
I've never encountered this before and I'm sure it's thrown many people for a loop. I'm just glad that I'm happily installing Windows on this other system after replacing the DVD drive.
So if you're getting the BSOD on a system that worked normally fine during the Windows XP CD install, consider swapping the optical dirve and see if it makes a difference, it did for me.
install, faulty, optical, dvd, rw, educated, loading, xp, motherboard, heavily, nec, culprit, disconnecting, swapping, pioneer, smoothly, ve, desktop, usage, memtest, smartctl, linux, crashes, encountered, installing, replacing, bsod, dirve,