I know this is a late post, but I had a similar problem this week when trying to re-install XP on a laptop with a sata HD for a friend of the family.
I think you need the sata HD drivers, which you can download from the manufacturer's website. I think I had to open the back of the laptop and remove the drive to confirm the model number - although that could have been for the diagnostic software.
*** UPDATE - The drivers should be from the HP site, or motherboard site.***
Ideally, you would have a floppy drive and a floppy with the drivers on. I think you press F6 as Windows setup loads.
Alternatively, you could Google 'nlite'. This is software to get around the lack of a floppy drive.
*** UPDATE - According to various forums, this looks like the way to go. And the software is 'Nlite' not 'nline'. Sorry.***
Long story short, I cannot confirm if any of this works. I gave up and installed Suse 10.3 Gnome, with Amarok for their music and Skype for calls. Thankfully, wireless worked. The laptop owner is not a power user. The laptop is running slow on 512 MB, but if it works out I will add more RAM. I am crossing my fingers that they can survive a switch to Linux. So far, so good.
With regard to the comments about Vista not being the problem, that does not match my experience.
Hope that helps,