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Your friend is indeed correct, this will require replacing the hard drive and reloading Windows onto the new drive. If you did not create restore discs when you first purchased the computer, you will also need to order a recovery kit from HP. This page describes how to order a recovery kit from HP... http://support.hp.com/us-en/document/bph07143#AbT2
replacing the drive itself isn't very difficult. You can purchase a new laptop hard drive (2.5" SATA) from Amazon or locally from stores like Best Buy. This page describes the process to replace the hard drive on an envy 15: http://support.hp.com/us-en/document/c04330942
Finally, if you had important data on the hard drive that failed, it may be possible to recover that data by sending it to a specialized data recovery company like Gillware. You can get more information on the cost and process of that here: http://gillware.com/?affiliate=23854
Is there any other information I can provide for you regarding this issue?