So I went to MicroCenter and got myself a Samsung 840EVO. Yay! (No, the company didn't pay for it because they're cheap like that -- but $100 for my sanity is an easy price to pay -- the time I saved with an SSD install and the peppiness of the system would easily repay itself manifold in terms of my pay, but try to convince a centralized IT department of that).
I downloaded Visual Studio 2008 from MSDN. Then I went to install SQL Server 2008 R2 -- at least the BIDS (Business Intelligence Development Studio, later known as SQL Server Data Tools in SQL Server 2012) portion of it (I have to work in older reports sometimes). But BIDS wouldn't install because it didn't like that Visual Studio 2008 SP1 wasn't installed. Huh? Didn't I get SP1 with my MSDN download? The answer is no!
I poked around for a while and realized after some knuckle dragging that Windows Update doesn't update VS2008 and MSDN doesn't offer a slipstreamed SP1 version. You actually have to manually download VS 2008 SP1 and manually install it. The horror!
Here's what the error messages looked like:
|Previous releases of Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Failed
|A previous release of Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 is installed on this computer. Upgrade Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 to the SP1 before installing SQL Server 2008. Visual Studio SP1 can be found at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink?LinkID=159627.
|Installing Service Pack 1 for Visual Studio 2008
Now that I've installed SP1, all is well. But keep in mind it's not an automatic process so you have to do it manually. PS, uninstalling Visual Studio does not fix the problem as this MSKB article describes. The only way to fix it is to install a working copy of VS and then install SP1 on top of it and then install BIDS.
Oh -- and spend the money and get yourself an SSD. For this article I uninstalled and reinstalled VS2008 3 times (including the service pack) in less than an hour! You'll never go back to a spindle again for your primary OS drive -- I guarantee it.