The Windows RE replaces the recovery console from XP, and is really a pretty slick environment. The problem is, Microsoft didn’t think we’d use it much, and it doesn’t install automatically onto your machine. Of course you can use it from the DVD, but I prefer to have it installed in my startup menu.
There is a great simple step-by step guide on installing it locally here:
Which is based on a slightly more complicated post on the Windows RE blog.
You’ll need a vista DVD, and to download the Windows AIK, which is linked in the article.