Member Rara Avis
Chris is right on both counts. Your Word documents are just fine and you'll have no trouble at all once you install Word again. In fact, if your data files are okay, there's a good chance Word is still on your hard disk. If you can find the directory where it's setting, it should have its own setup.exe that will re-associate the file extensions and add the program to your menu. If you can do it that way, you won't lose any custom settings you may have already added to Word.
And yea, knowing HP, their idea of a "Recovery Disk" is probably what I would call a binary image file. It's a mirror of what your disk looked like after everything was installed and is probably next to useless. However, if you were able to do an OS restore, then what I was referring to - the actual OS install files - are on that hidden partition "somewhere," too. Finding them on the hidden partition, however, would take some potentially dangerous magic.
FWIW, Chris, I've bought two off-the-shelf computers in my life, but treated both exactly the same way as those built from individual components. The first was an HP, circa 1995 (actually bought for a customer who turned out to not pay his bills), and the second was a Dell, about two years ago (because there aren't a lot of computer stores in Colon). In both instances, the first step was to format the hard disk and then lay down MY operating system of choice. It was when I thought back to the HP that I realized what you meant because, yea, it came with a binary image CD, not a "real" OS. The Dell, however, did come with a true OS CD, just not the one I wanted (Win ME was a step backward from Win98, IMO).
Not incidentally, Karilea, the Dell is a P4 1200 MHz and was meant to replace my slower P3 400 MHz machine. In two years, however, I've never quite found the time to configure the new machine and still use it for little more than a file server. My P3 just keeps chugging along, eliminating any real sense of urgency.
Now that you're an Install Expert, you can drop over some time and finish the job for me?