This issue has been partially solved. It's the one where you install Win 7 on this laptop that only has USB 3.0 ports - you manually inject the drivers into the boot.wim file after which the OS then loads successfully. It did work just fine. Win 7 is installed except the 3.0 drivers didn't make it. I thought maybe I should use the same method and add the drivers to the install.wim file as well and then re-install. I thought for sure that would work. How could that not have been the solution? It seemed pretty obvious.
When that didn't work, I thought no problem, I'll just copy the drivers onto a 2.5" sata and connect it to the sata expansion slot that is provided and load them that way. I never thought in a million years that upon connecting the sata, it would not be detected by neither the device mngr, disk mngmnt utility, nor even the bios! Last ditch effort - does anybody know a solution to this? I'm about ready to throw this $1700 POS out the window. The latest technologies are so overloaded with "big brother" implementation that any attempts to reconfigure are met with BS like this. I don't give a flying rat's ass about "security" and if I can't have the option I'm not going to buy your products ever again.