Sunday, December 23, 2018

"Your Windows Is Not Genuine"

I had a minor issue recently: my laptop background image disappeared, the screen turned black, and there was a message at the bottom right of the screen saying, "This version of Windows is not genuine." Clicking the link to fix it only took me to a "Page Not Found" error on the Microsoft website.

Now, I wasn't surprised to hear the software wasn't quite genuine; I had downloaded the installation software from Microsoft, but I bought the license from an online marketplace.... Microsoft won't sell you a license for Windows 7, haven't for a few years now... they want you to buy Windows 10.  BUT, if they were going to hiccup over the license, the proper time for that would have been when I activated it, over a year ago... when there was at least a chance the vendor would have refunded my purchase price.

I tried System Restore; no help, so I performed an 'Undo' of the restore so as not to have to reinstall the handful of utilities I had updated earlier in the week.  At this point, I should have turned to the best friend a computer nerd ever had: Google.  But no, I had a better idea: I clicked on Change Product Key, thought I'd try plugging in the license key again, see if it had just gotten corrupted in the Registry.  I know, stupid idea, but I have a monumental ego, and I was certain I could handle this without help.

I was wrong.

So now the computer says it has 30 days to activate, or it will stop working.

I had a backup... two, in fact.  I backed up the computer beforehand, just in case my repair didn't work as expected, then restored from the newest backup.  Seemed to work, so I deleted the oldest backup to make room for another after I updated all the programs that I routinely install.  Wish I had checked the activation status before I wiped that older backup... apparently I had backed it up before activating Windows.

anyhoo... After I gave up on my well-intentioned but ultimately foolish path of self-reliance, I turned to my best friend, Google, and the first NON-Microsoft link in the results was everything I wish I had known before I started futzing around with it:

Essentially, there are three steps:
  1. Turn off Automatic Updates;
  2. Uninstall Windows Update KB971033;
  3. Reset the Software Licensing Manager.
Instructions on accomplishing these steps are on the Web page indicated above.

I know a lot of folks will balk at turning off Microsoft Updates.  All I can say is, I've thought for the last few years that Windows Updates do more harm than good.  In my opinion, which is admittedly only valid for me, if you have a good anti-virus installed and don't do stupid stuff, you can live without most updates.

One more thing, though... if you use IOBit's Advanced SystemCare, which I recommend, you'll need to disable checking for Vulnerability Fixes; otherwise, even with Windows Updates disabled, ASC will download and install the offending update again.

As for me... I can't buy a legitimate Windows license from Microsoft, and I assume the rest of the licenses I bought online are also blocked.  I could revert it to Windows Vista, the license for that is still on the case, but let's be honest:  if Vista had been worth a flying fig, I wouldn't have upgraded to Windows 7 in the first place.

I'm sure this ten year old laptop will run Linux like a champ, much faster and more safely and reliably than it ever ran Windows Vista or '7.  Take that, Redmond.