Just after the January update on 8th January, Windows 7 users began to experience activation errors, but Microsoft put the issues down to coincidence, despite admitting that it had reverted changes made to activation servers in the update in order to fix the problem.
What Is An Activation Error?
Windows Activation Technologies are used by Microsoft to help confirm that the copy of Windows 7 that is a user is running on their computer is genuine. For example, the activation key is a 25-character code that is located on the Certificate of Authenticity label or on the proof of license label, and validation feature of Activation Technologies is the online process where users must verify that the copy of Windows 7 they’re running on their computer is activated correctly and is genuine.
An activation error, therefore, is when a user’s system wrongly notifies them that their copy of Windows is not genuine.
On 8th January, there was a monthly ‘Rollup’ security update for Windows 7 Service Pack 1, and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1. The update was designed to improve and fix certain issues with Windows 7 e.g. fixing a vulnerability known as ‘Speculative Store Bypass’, and adding security updates to Windows Kernel, Windows Storage and Filesystems, Windows Wireless Networking, and the Microsoft JET Database Engine.
According to Microsoft, the fact that users received “Windows is not genuine”, and “Your computer might be running a counterfeit copy of Windows” notification at the same time as the January updates (KB4480960 and KB4480970) were introduced was simply a coincidence. Despite describing it as such, the problems were listed a table of “known issues in this update” on Microsoft’s support pages.
Reverted The Change
Microsoft announced on 9th January that it has fixed the issue by reverting the change that was made to Microsoft Activation and Validation servers.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
For many Windows 7 users, the change meant a day of disruption on the Tuesday of the first full week back after the Christmas and New Year break. For many of these users however, this appears to be one more in a long line of incidents, nudges and pointers that look like they’re designed to encourage them to finally make the switch over to Microsoft’s Windows 10 and its SaaS model. Microsoft ended its mainstream support for Windows 7 on January 13th, 2015, and the extended support will only continue until January 14th, 2020, after which time Microsoft says on its website that users can “keep the good times rolling by moving to Windows 10”.