Need urgent help

Today my brother in law updated his laptop's os (Win 8.1) and he shut down his laptop (up to this point everything was working normally). The problem is that when he rebooted the machine, the PC immediately goes to a message saying"Reboot and select proper boot device or inset boot media in selected boot device and press a key." I've already gone through several blog posts but none seem to give me an answer as to what the problem may be. Perhaps is it that the new update somehow screwed with the MBR on the HDD?

PRO TIP: We can't even get into BIOS... How fucked is he?

No BIOS=not good. Are you sure there isn't a key combo specific to the manufacturer? Is that reboot message in a DOS or other bios-y looking screen or is a windows 8 looking screen? What I try to always do is find the point of failure first. Maybe try booting off the system install disk (or put windows 8 iso on a usb stick). If that works, try putting in a different 2.5 inch drive with windows on it inside the machine. OR take his HDD out and see if it will boot a different computer. Thats about all I can think of based off the info you gave me

I'm pretty sure (as in 80%) that I was able to access the BIOS with just F2 key. And besides, there isn't even a prompt to use the key to access the BIOS, as in just a black screen with TOSHIBA written on it with no legend whatsoever as to what to do.

Toshiba laptops generally use the number "0" for recovery options (spam the number 0 and hope your drive isn't corrupt).

You should be able to enter the bios with "F12"

If you do manage to recover the partition through normal means, remember to run sfc /scannow from an elevated command prompt.

The other alternative is to throw a linux live CD in and fix the system manually.

THE DRIVE WAS NOT DEAD, THANKS A LOT! You just saved a poor college student from loosing all his research data.

^^^ +1 nice work ^^^