There have been a number of issues that are directly related to mod_rewrite and .htaccess.
First of all, you should ideally be using Apache, not lighttpd as with lighttpd (lighty) you would need to convert the Rewrite Rules to a lighty-specific syntax then put them in your lighttpd.conf configuration file and restart lighty.
If you downloaded the zip file, you may be missing important .htaccess files. If you do not see any .htaccess files you should probably download the .tar.gz file, as it has them. The other issue could be that you aren’t seeing .htaccess files because your system thinks they are system files and it may be hiding them. Make sure your Windows settings are set to show hidden and system files.
Other tips to speed up installation time:
upload the tar.gz file directly to your server and use SSH to browse to that directory and un-tar it:
tar -xzvf magento.tar.gz
Let it untar and you should be good.
If you still have issues, make sure these files and directories are chmodded (set permissions) with a minimum 755:
Hope this helps. Add any other tips or resolutions here.