Greetings --

I just wanted to update this thread for anyone who might be paying attention to it.

I bought a Windows 7 Pro 64-bit System Builder DVD from Amazon and installed it today, starting with a full CLEAN ALL using the DISKPART utility. No issues with the DVD drive as there were with the 8 DVD. I can't prove, but strongly suspect, that the BIOS in this machine somehow cannot support installation of Windows 8.

Thanks to all who contributed suggestions. I will now mark the thread as SOLVED.