I had a workaround. If iTunes was already running, then it wouldn't crash when the iPhone was connected. It was not a desirable work around because I don't want iTunes running all the time. It was a drag having to remember to launch iTunes each time before connecting the iPhone.
I'm running Vista, and I my periodic searches (when frustration would peak) I noticed that Mac users also had similar problems. A few months ago, playing with my settings, I discovered how to prevent it from crashing iTunes (and went on my happy way, neglecting to blog on it). The solution was simple, turn off "Automatically sync when this iPhone is connected". It's not an ideal solution, but it fits my workflow very well. I don't need to sync the phone every time I connect it, so as long as I remember to do it once in a while, I'm good. Since most of my important info is kept "in the cloud", syncing frequently is not a necessity.