Factory Restore an HP/Compaq Notebook w/o Recovery Discs
I'm posting this because a) it may help someone out a bunch in a bind and b) because I spent over three hours scouring google to find a solution. I spent several hours trying to get .WIM files from the recovery partition bootable (and pointlessly extracting them under Windows 7 only to have the "CD Creator.exe" tell me there is no DVD burner in the computer, which is false and has something to do with not having the crappy bundled burning software installed). After getting extremely frustrated, I found a much simpler solution...
If you are in the following scenario:
your primary boot drive is corrupt or not working, or you have reinstalled the primary OS without having made factory recovery discs first
you do not have restore DVDs
F11 does not boot into recovery mode
but you do have the recovery partition (usually D drive) intact
If all these are true (mainly the recovery partition being intact), there is a very easy solution to restore your machine to the factory state, at which point you can create the recovery discs:
Using a bootable partition management CD (e.g. pwhe7.iso available via googling) mark the recovery partition as active. Now reboot and hit F11...the recovery partition will load and you can restore your boot drive. When you are finished, you may need to boot the partition management CD again to mark the recovered boot drive as active again (otherwise you'll keep rebooting into recovery; I actually didn't have this issue).
Once you manage to restore your main OS, you can now recreate the recovery discs regardless of whether or not they have already been made (HP only lets you make one set for some ridiculous reason that I'll assume is licensing related). The only thing you need to do is to find and delete hpcd.sys on your recovery partition. This is a hidden file, so you will need to enable viewing hidden files and folders via Control Panel.
Now you're all set to recover your system again even if the hard drive fails...