Microsoft: We've fixed Windows 7 'Not genuine' and network share issues

Microsoft strongly recommends uninstalling an anti-piracy patch on enterprise Windows 7 PCs.

Microsoft has rolled out fixes for serious bugs that surfaced after last week's Patch Tuesday update for Windows 7 machines, which blocked network shares and wrongly reported legitimate instances of Windows 7 as 'not genuine'. 

Microsoft on Friday revealed that the false 'not genuine' notifications and activation failures were not caused by last week's cumulative update or security-only patch for Windows 7.

Instead, the notifications were down to a change it had made to the Microsoft Activation and Validation Server that coincided with the patch release. The events are not related, according to Microsoft. 

Microsoft says it reverted the change to its backend activation and validation server on January 9, a day after sysadmins discovered Windows 7 PCs were affected.    

One admin discovered "a few thousand" Windows 7 virtual desktops reporting they were running counterfeit instances of Windows 7. It was thought Microsoft had released an old patch KB971033, which contained anti-piracy features, but Microsoft says the update to its activation and validation server merely affected systems with that update installed.   

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Microsoft also notes that its support page for KB971033 contains a warning for enterprise customers not to install that update. 

"Note For an Enterprise customer who uses Key Management Service (KMS) or Multiple Activation Key (MAK) volume activation, we generally recommend to NOT install this update in their reference image or already deployed computers. This update is targeted at consumer installs of Windows using RETAIL activation."

Microsoft now says that "we strongly recommend" that organizations with volume-licensed Windows 7 devices uninstall the update, even on devices that aren't currently affected by the issues discovered. 

However, the Windows 7 security updates did block admins from remotely accessing network shares. Microsoft released an update for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 to address the issue. 

"This update resolves the issue where local users who are part of the local 'Administrators' group may not be able to remotely access shares on Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 machines after installing the January 8, 2019 security updates. This does not affect domain accounts in the local 'Administrators' group," Microsoft notes

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