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I just had the same problem as Nrs2k on ASUS N56V laptop with Windows 8 OS. Couldn't activate recover mode. Wasn't able to enter BIOS settings. Just a black screen when computer started. However, I could adjust screen brightness and activate/deactivate wireless. I also had a mouse "cross" that I could move about - but that's not too fancy to have on a blank black screen :(
In desperation I finally removed the battery and then put it back in, and it worked. Something must have reset in the computer and I got to the windows login :)
I'm still a bit shocked that I wasn't able to enter the BIOS settings, though.
The key to the answer provided which makes this totally impossible is the comment, "When the Windows 8 Logo appears" many will find their boot process doesn't get to a logo. It falls far short. You may if your lucky boot to the recovery console. Thus unless there is more tools in the recovery console on a USB stick then there is remaining on the partition on the hard drive it may help you. Its become a sad adventure for people with these issues not wanting to lose data. Gone is your recovery disks, many times they leave you with a split HD, well what if the HD is bad? Basically your in a lesson learned situation, they want you to go through these processes of backing up your OS, creating a recovery disk, making a system image. The last being the best option. If not pay a service to backup, services like Buffalo, and WD are thriving for a reason with their personal clouds. People think to themselves, "I can't trust these services to keep my data private or to keep it to themselves." Although I agree unless you want to lose important information you must jump through these hoops so they can save 20 bucks a pc sold you don't want to hear the lectures while your in the middle of a pc emergency. Just find a solution to a issue that should be easily solvable. Really how hard can it be to repair the boot section enough to boot up, pull data and do a claen reinstall. I refuse to beleive it should be this difficult. I understand protecting licenses but this silly create this make that, backup here...enough already this should have been solved ions ago, make a Windows based program that doesn't just do backups but full images of the hd. Hookup a 1tb drive and boom your done.
If Windows 8 fails to start, the Automatic Recovery feature should launch automatically and use a combination of a System Restore point and malware scan (+recovery) to get your PC back to a bootable state. However, if Automatic Recovery fails, it’s time to boot into the Windows 8 recovery environment from which you’ll have a few additional options that’ll get you going again: First, turn on your PC and repeatedly hit SHIFT+F8 right before the Windows 8 logo is seen on screen. Alternatively, plug in your Windows 8 USB thumb drive or insert the DVD and enter the setup. Jump to “Repair your PC” right from the installer’s welcome screen:
From the recovery environment, click on “Troubleshoot”. If your PC is damaged beyond repair and you forgot to create an image (see previous question), try the “Refresh your PC” setting. This will back up your Windows 8 apps, settings and files and then perform a complete reinstall and restore. You’ll end up back in your known Windows 8 environment, and all there is to do is reinstall your application. If, for whatever reason, the damage is serious enough that’ll make the PC Refresh fail, a complete PC Reset might be in order:
Again, consider both of these options as a sort of “last resort”. Instead, you should make your way to the “Advanced options” and try both the “System Restore” and “Automatic Repair” settings. If you’ve created an image (see previous question), you should try the “System Image Recovery” setting: