Not only are you dealing with Vista but HP's modifications to the boot process. All I can share is this does work fine if you have "the real Vista DVD" and not some mangled OEM Vista. Is this worth doing? Or do you have some XP you'd like to run?
I have an HP Pavilion laptop with Vista 64 and a recovery partition for the OS and drivers. I set out to dual boot Linux and Vista on this laptop and everything went badly. I used a Linux LiveCD to:
1. resize Vista - did not know that this was a problem. Did it many times to XP.
2. I deleted the recovery partion after I burned the recovery Disks.
3. I made a small 750MB partition before Vista where I want to place GRUB for the dual-boot. Maybe this step messed up the Vista bootloader ?
4. So, now I have a small ext2 Linux partition of 750 MB, followed by a large NTFS partition where the dead but supposedly intact Vista lies sick, followed by a 35 GB Linux partition where I want to put Ubuntu.
I am not sure which step first made Vista unbootable - the resize or the placement of a partition in front of it. After resizing Vista and partitioning, I did use a Linux LiveCD to check the Vista partition and I found it to be fine as far as data integrity is concerned. I could explore all of my files and folders. *** So, up until now, the data was safe, I had not tried to boot Vista, but I suppose that it was already unbootable due to one or all of the steps taken *** It gets worse.... I then began the recovery process by using the recovery DVDs that I burned. After booting the recovery Disk 1, the display said "loading files". This went on for long enough that I became concerned and shutdown the laptop for fear that it was Installing the recovery OS and drivers without asking me whether I had data that I wanted to retrieve. This is important: I never got to the selection screen of the Vista recovery disk, the process was halted at loading files. HP tech support assures me that the data has not been erased. But...
The problems now are:
1. Vista won't boot. I get a Windows Boot Manager error screen that implies that \windows\system32\winload.exe can't be found. * I imagine that either the resizing or shutting down of the recovery disk caused this.
2. I have tried every Linux LiveCD that I have and I can't mount that partition to check the data now. I WAS able to do so before the recovery sequence began. The error message tells me that the partition was shutdown improperly and seems to imply that it is scheduled to do something and therefore can't be mounted. I am given the option to force mount but that sounds hazardous to me. I want to repeat that HP tech support said the data is still there because I did not get past "loading files". - I just have not found a way to get to it.
3. HP tech support thought that they could help me entirely if I could get a DOS prompt. He kept having me try tapping f8 during bootup to get a command prompt. We could not get that. We just had the same Windows Boot Manager error come up over and over again. I don't know what he was going to do but he thought that it would be game over and victory if we could get the prompt.
*** I am just looking for a fix. Ideally, I would like to get this installation bootable again. If not possible, I would like to at least rescue the data. HP is sending me a special recovery disk in the mail. It should be able to help recover data - should - but I don't trust it. The tech on the phone sounded dicey about it. I think that it only recovers sytem files and folders not my files and folders - the ones I care about.