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Unfortunately, this is big trouble.
When your computer first starts it looks to the hard disk for boot files to startup with and load windows. If it cannot find a hard disk or boot files, you will be presented with the error you wrote about.
If you have your vista CD you can boot to it and attempt a reinstall of Windows. If your hard drive is dead the installation will fail early on and tell you no suitable disk for installation could be found - also will be prompting you for drivers you do NOT need for your hard disk. To clarify, you do not need drivers for a typical laptop hard drive to be recognized by Windows.
If you can reinstall Windows it's indicative that your previous installation was corrupted somehow.
A new laptop hard disk may run you $100 at any big super store. Laptop hard drives are pretty easy for end users to install. You can then reinstall windows.
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