First of all, which motherboard (desktop board) are you using? Some motherboards (as well as nearly all motherboards which use the Northwood Pentium 4 processor, which always are of the Socket 478 type and equipped with the now-obsolete AGP graphics bus) are not fully compatible with Windows 7 - either because there are no drivers available or the boards themselves are so old that they are no longer supported by their manufacturers. (In fact, the last operating system which is fully supported by such older motherboards was Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or earlier, which is now either no longer supported by Microsoft or (in the case of SP2) is on the verge of having all further support discontinued by Microsoft (July 13 of this year is the target date for the cutoff).
My particular 2.8C GHz Pentium 4 processor-based system that I am posting from had a Windows 7 user experience rating of only 3.4 at the default Windows settings but increased to 3.9 when I disabled Windows Indexing and Windows Search.
What's more, I assume that you're using a 32-bit version of Windows 7. This is obvious since the Pentium 4 Northwood processor is strictly 32-bit (no 64-bit support).
At this rate you might as well consider retiring that Pentium 4 system and upgrade to something newer. This is because being able to run Windows 7 and being fully supported in Windows 7 are two different things.
Ok. I tried flashing the BIOS and disabled HT but there was no effect. While checking some of the settings in the new BIOS I noticed that the CPU was running hot. I took the side of the case of and sure enough the plastic tabs that hold the heat sink on had broken again. Poor design, brittle plastic. It only lasts a few years. I replaced the bracket and resecured the heat sink. Afterward, everything was running correctly. Intel CPUID shows proper speed and I now have a rating of 4.2 up from 1.7. Thank you for your help.