No, and if the old drive failed, then it is covered under the warranty for the system which should be a minimum of 1 year. So Acer should be sending you a new drive rather than you buying one.

That being said, in these wonderful days of doing anything if it'll save a couple of pennies, recovery discs typically are not supplied. Rather a copy is stored on a special recovery partition... On the hard drive that failed. However, you are typically harassed quite relentlessly early on in using the system to create your own recovery discs. So, Acer can't be blamed for everything here, because you clearly opted not to do this.

But that all aside, the data on the old drive is effectively gone, never to be seen again. If you get a drive from Acer, they can install a copy of Windows on it before it ships out to you. It might delay it a day or two, but when it arrives, be sure to make those backup discs.

And while it's too late now, for the future... Acer has a rather poor reputation when it comes to quality. They also now own Gateway and eMachines, so might be best to avoid those as well. HP/Compaq similarly has a rather poor reputation, so maybe another company to avoid. IMO, Dell probably gives the best balance. They're not the best or the cheapest, but they give the best mix of the two.

This all boils down to a very simple lesson about modern electronics: Cheap usually means crap. It's not a universal, but it's true probably at least 90% of the time. If some company seems to offer all kinds of bells and whistles at a lower price than everyone else, that should be like the robot from that lost in space show that was always saying, "Danger! Danger!" To get prices that low, they had to cut corners somewhere. Since you're likely paying a bundle to get anything shipped to you, not to mention having limited time, this might be very useful advice.

In the mean time, you can look into Linux distributions that are aimed specifically at media playback use. XBMC Live is one such example, but it's a tad hefty at 512MB. You'd probably need someone to load it onto a flash drive and send it to you at that size, unless someone around you has their own private Internet connection they'd be willing to let you use. There might be some smaller ones. These would let you at least watch DVDs until you can get your hard drive issue sorted.