fresh install of win7 on an empty
drive will install a hidden recovery partition that can be used to boot (PE) to the "System Recovery Options". Screenshot at:
But if you install win7 on a non-empty drive, it usually will not create the hidden partition, and you might need to boot a cd/dvd or usb to get to recovery menus. But, I think there are (at least) two ways, using EasyBCD, to boot to recovery environment from the hard-drive alone, without creating any extra partitions.
(A.) "EasyBCD's Win PE settings" mentioned in original post. Not sure there can be any easy step-by-step how-to for creating a WinPE.WIM image file, from a brief google.
(B.) Use "EasyBCD's External Devices" to boot an ISO file RepairWin7-32bit.iso for example, in the following easy steps. (These are for EasyBCD Version 22.214.171.124 beta on windows 7-32-bit enterprise, but should work for vista or other win7 I think...)
B1. Obtain a copy of the iso file for your system (w7/vista, 32/65) such as a download from here:
Alternatively, create a real cd/dvd and then convert that to an iso file: Control-Panel -> Backup-and-Restore -> Create a system repair disc (Mac-os-x and linux include ability to create an iso file from an actual cd.) Let us say "RepairWin7-32.iso" is filename.
B2. Put the iso file in C:\NST folder. If you have no x:\NST, it will be created if you run EasyBCD -> "Add/Remove Entries" -> NeoGrub (This is ok, even if you never want to use NeoGrub). Note: if windows explorer shows the file in green, that means it's encrpyted, and you will need to decrpyt it by Right-click, Properties, Advanced, un-check "Encrypted...").
B3. EasyBCD -> External Devices -> Boot from "External" Media (even though it will not really be "External", as we'll be using the ISO file on hard-drive).
Under the "ISO Boot" tab...
Display Name: RepairWin7-32bit
ISO Image: C:\NST\RepairW7-32.iso
Did not thoroughly test, but it appears to work for me. Where-ever you put your iso, I would recommend you keep filenames and path short and without spaces: I chose \NST because that is where EasyBCD puts it's own pwhe42.iso file for the EasyBCD's PLoP bios extender". If your iso does not boot, install PLoP under "Boot from 'External' Media, and if that works, then it proves you can at least boot from the pwhe42.iso file.