Using command prompt I have cleaned the drive, created a primary partition, and extracted install.wim from a windows 7 installation disk and deployed it using dism. Upon trying to boot, the laptop simply asks me to choose what device to boot from continuously. Am I missing something?
This is a very convoluted method of trying to install Windows 7 which I doubt would actually work.
Part of the installation of Windows 7 includes creating the System Reserved Partition. The System Reserve partition holds the Boot Manager code and the Boot Configuration Database. Without this partition you will not be able to boot into Windows 7. The only way I know of to install this partition is to do a conventional installation of Windows 7 with either a installation disc or flash drive. This partition will not have a drive letter assigned to it. The only way to see it is by viewing the Disk Management.
No matter what installation media you choose (disc or flash drive) I would suggest installing the SSD internally in this computer. This should make recognition of this drive a non-issue.
Since you have the installation disc I would suggest that you use it to make the installation. In order to boot from the installation disc or flash drive you will need to change the boot order in the BIOS. To use the installation disc (probably the easiest option) you will need to make the optical drive the first device in the boot order, the SSD would be made the second device in the boot order.
With Windows 7 there is a possibility that the motherboard is old enough that there will not be an options to enable a USB device in the boot order. If this is the case you will not be able to boot from a USB port.
What is the make and model of this laptop?