how most vendors work at this's activated at the 'plant' with a HP license because there is no way to tell how long the system will sit on a shelf waiting to be sold (such as at Wal-Mart) because otherwise it wouldn't boot up when somebody buys it and takes it home. It's an OEM version license not a retail type.

And the recovery partition is exactly that....only the operating system files, drivers, programs preinstalled, etc. are on that partition so you can't use it for your own storage. You would have to buy and install a separate harddrive (even a USB external type would do) for that purpose.

Also...if you ever decide to format the current harddrive, and you don't have a physical recovery disk to do it with, you will lose that partition and not have anything to restore with. HP tech support and they will tell you how to burn your own Operating System and drivers installation disk from the files on the restore partition (it will probably be two or three installation disks so you will have XP on one and programs on another one or two). Or purchase your own retail or OEM copy of XP which will be licensed to you, and know that the preinstalled software will disappear into the sunset at some point in time when you format the drive and lose that partition.

If you don't do that, and you are really lucky, and only need to restore the system or replace missing/corrupt files or drivers or reinstall a preinstalled program, you would do that via a special icon on the desktop I think...and that icon is geared to look specifically at the extra partition for what it needs. Don't bank on HP and make your own restore/recovery disks ASAP.