The following two entries were originally posted on 2 Sep 2006 and 5 Sep 2006, "Inside the HP Quick Play partition" and "MBR to boot to Recovery partition" respectively. I've added some info from Wikipedia to explain the legacy technology!

Inside the HP QuickPlay Partition

An interesting side-effect of getting the Windows XP Recovery Console to work is that the Recovery Console can actually mount the HP QuickPlay partition! The 1st partition is the "user" Windows XP Operating System, the 2nd is the hidden Recovery partition, and the 3rd is the QuickPlay partition.

From Wikipedia: "QuickPlay is a technology pioneered by Hewlett-Packard that allows users to directly play multimedia without booting a computer to the main operating system. QuickPlay software, known as QuickPlay or HP QuickPlay is software custom developed for HP by CyberLink."

This notebook is a showcase for Windows technology. The Recovery partition is made using Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE), QuickPlay is made possible by Windows XP Embedded (Win XPe).

From Wikipedia: "Windows Preinstallation Environment (also known as Windows PE and WinPE) is a lightweight version of Windows used for the deployment of PCs, workstations, and servers, or troubleshooting an operating system while it is offline. It is intended to replace MS-DOS boot disks and can be booted via USB flash drive, PXE, iPXE,[1] CD-ROM, or hard disk."

From Wikipedia: "Windows XP Embedded, commonly abbreviated "XPe", is a componentized version of the Professional edition of Windows XP. An original equipment manufacturer is free to choose only the components needed thereby reducing operating system footprint and also reducing attack area as compared with XP Professional." "The devices targeted for XPe have included automatic teller machines, arcade games, slot machines, cash registers, industrial robotics, thin clients, set-top boxes, network attached storage (NAS), time clocks, navigation devices, railroad locomotives, etc."

Using the Recovery Console, one can have a look at the QuickPlay partition's boot.ini file:

[boot loader]
timeout=0
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Embedded" /fastdetect /maxmem=256

Starting and stopping QuickPlay actually sets XPe to hibernate, and by limiting the amount of RAM and the applications running, QuickPlay manages to boot faster and conserve battery. Good stuff.

A closing comment - it's really easy to make a WinPE-type of bootable CD using Bart's PE Builder and CDShell. Both work as advertised and are free, but require some pretty technical knowledge.

MBR to boot to Recovery partition

If you need to setup the partitions again (including the recovery partition, but not including the hidden QuickPlay partition), try the application MBRInst.exe in C:\SWSETUP\HPQPDP:

MBRInst - Master Boot Record Installation Tool

Pressing F10 during bootup (specifically, after BIOS POST and just before Windows boots) will boot to the Recovery partition to allow recovery of the Operating System partition. Re-partition the disk and this will stop working.

A custom Master Boot Record (MBR) is used to check for F10 and boot to the second partition instead of the first, and re-partitioning will reset the MBR to the default.

Poking around on the HP QuickPlay partition revealed MBRInst.exe in the root folder. It can re-write the MBR to get back the F10 feature, and exposes more options to control how it works, like providing a prompt and countdown.

I've tested it in a Virtual Machine, and it works, but did not play with all the options. Don't dare do it for real, as I don't really need the Recovery partition at this point...

Again, use at your own risk! This is a very technical application, probably for support engineers, and I have no clue what all the options mean either. I disclaim any responsibility for anything that may (or may not) happen.

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