Following on from my discussion with @JustinD in the comments here, is it technically possible to simply xcopy the contents of a Windows partition to a partition freshly created and formatted on a new drive, and have the copied OS boot up normally as before?
My understanding is that the MBR is located at the first sector of the drive preceding the first partition, and thus is inaccessible to xcopy. Thus even if all the files are transferred, the lack of a proper boot record on the target disk should prevent it from booting unless a Startup Repair is performed. Looking at all the programs that offer disk/partition cloning, if all that was required was a simple file copy then surely nothing more than a LiveCD/USB would be required for a successful OS transfer? Or one could just connect the new drive, xcopy the OS and then swap drives if it was that simple.
So, can one simply xcopy Windows (and the System Reserved partition, if it exists) and expect it to boot?