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I have had a lot of luck with Puppy Linux. Download the ISO, burn it to a CD using ISO burning software, then boot into the CD. From there, you should be able to browse your HDD and copy any files you want to a USB drive. I would suggest wiping and reinstalling your operating system after that.
You can try to Repair your Windows using the Windows installation CD (for Repair choose R when prompted). You can let the automatic repair to try and fix it, if that doesn't work upon restart reboot and start the Repair again, but this time select Command Prompt or Console and put in "bootrec /rebuildbcd" without the quotes. If you don't have Windows installation CD you can try downloading Hiren's Boot CD and try to fix the bootmgr with the utilities from the disc: http://www.hirensbootcd.org/download/
in the setup utility, make sure the boot sequence is set to check the cd drive and then the hard drive in that order. hit f10 to save your settings and reboot. if your hd section is grayed out, then the system isn't seeing the hdd and it's probably bad.
Try uninstalling the drive in device manager and then reboot, windows will automatically detect it again and re-install the drivers again for you.
The drivers may have been corrupt, if this does not work then the firmware on the drive might be corrupt.
If the laptop is new and won't boot, either take it back to the place where you got it, or else put the recovery CD in the drive and try to do a full install using the recovery CD. It sounds to me like you have a used or ex-demo laptop that someone wiped by doing the first part of an installation process to unpartition and then repartition the drive to wipe all data. Try rebooting to the CD recovery disk and installing a clean OS.