I'm running Windows 7 Home Premium RTM (64-bit) and I want to take advantage of the system recovery tools (eg the Command Prompt) without using the Windows 7 DVD. My understanding is that this environment (WinRE) should be installed to your HDD by default as part of the Windows 7 installation. However, when I hit F8 on boot and select "Repair", I get:
Windows failed to start. A recent hardware or software change might be the cause. To fix the problem...
Info: The boot selection failed because a required device is inaccessible.
The "Info" line seems like the smoking gun. My next step was to boot from the Windows 7 DVD, and choose "Repair". It indicated my Recovery Environment wasn't on the Windows 7 boot menu (perfect) and offered to fix it. I said yes and rebooted, however same issue as above. In addition, when I booted in to Windows 7 and I looked at the boot menu options, the recovery/repair option was not there. Only my Windows installation.
Finally, I ran the Disk Management tool (diskmgmt.msc) and took a look at the contents of my "System Reserved" partition (which was set to "Active" as normal). It's unclear to me what the contents should look like, however it is my understanding that the WinRE environment gets installed to this partition.
(As part of the above troubleshooting I followed http://superuser.com/questions/25728/how-to-fix-windows-7-boot-process which lead to http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/668-system-recovery-options.html).