Our small non profit has one of these units, we deleted the OS partition (but not the recovery partition) and installed Windows 7. What I've noticed is if you use a Hiren boot CD, the first option you get it to boot from hard drive, evidently (and this is not just gateway) the Hiren boot cd when you tell it to boot off the hard drive will launch the recovery partition (perhaps because the recovery partition is in the first logical order) so in the case you need to do an OS recovery you download and burn this disk, boot it from cd, select the first option, then the recovery partition will launch.
I did this by accident and found it was going to try to restore Vista over the working Windows 7 partition. Fortunately I was able to cancel the system restore. So this answers your comments about not being able to choose to boot to the recovery partition when you've reloaded the OS partition without using Gateway's internal hard drive recovery methods and lose the ability to select the partition by keystroke at power up.