Most manufacturers have a recovery partition which is a destructive installation. This means that it will effectively reinstall Windows over the existing copy. It will revert the operating system to the condition it was in when it first came out of the box. You will lose all of the programs you have installed, your pictures, movies, music, etc. It will also remove any updates which were downloaded after you first started using the computer.
There are a few manufacturers who provide the option for a non-destructive installation, HP and Gateway are two of these. With this option you will not lose the things you would with a destructive installation.
The recovery partition can not be used for anything other than reinstalling the operating system.
Back when XP was still supported installation discs were provided by OEM manufacturers. If I remember correctly, Vista was the first operating system OEM computers that had recovery partitions.