A seeming problem with Microsoft's Windows activation servers today caused a number of Windows 10 users to see false messages informing them they were running non-activated software. At the end of the day (U.S. Eastern time) on November 8, some users were reporting these issues were resolved.
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On November 8, a number of users who had activated and licensed copies of Windows 10 Pro began receiving messages saying they needed to install Windows 10 Home or go back and purchase a "genuine" copy of Windows. This included both Windows Insider testers and those builds released to mainstream users (including some users with the Windows 10 October 2018 update/1809).
Some users said they had contacted Microsoft support and were told incorrectly they needed to repurchase licenses or somehow obtain new product keys. (And some people said they did this.) Some users also said they followed the instructions they received in the erroneous messages and rolled back to Windows 10 Home.
Meanwhile, Microsoft officials said very little officially about what was happening. In the afternoon (ET) of November 8, after asking Microsoft for an update on the situation, I got the following message from a spokesperson:
"We're working to restore product activations for the limited number of affected Windows 10 Pro customers." (attributable to Jeff Jones, Senior Director, Microsoft)
I asked for comment on what caused the activation problems; when and how Microsoft expected them to be fixed; and whether users would have to take any steps to resolve the issue and was told the company had nothing more to share at that time.
I had also heard from from one user who said he received erroneous activation messages about his Windows Server 2016 licenses, as well as from users who said they were unable to buy an upgrade from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro today.
Around 5 p.m. ET, I started hearing reports from users on Twitter that their activation issues seemed to be resolved. Users were told to try going to Settings > Update & Security > Activation and then select Troubleshoot to run the Activation Troubleshooter to try to restore correct Activation status.(Thanks to Neowin for publishing the steps and Microsoft Senior Program Manager Brandon Leblanc for tweeting them.)
There are 31 pages of comments (and counting) on the Microsoft Answers forum about today's issue. Hopefully there will some kind of explanation coming from Microsoft officials about what happened and what those who took incorrect measures to try to fix this issue should can do to undo any damage (monetary or otherwise) that's been done.
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Update (November 8, 9 pm ET): A Microsoft spokesperson provided an updated official statement, again attributed to Jeff Jones:
"A limited number of customers experienced an activation issue that our engineers have now addressed. Affected customers will see resolution over the next 24 hours as the solution is applied automatically. In the meantime, they can continue to use Windows 10 Pro as usual."
The watermark identifying a system as non-compliant will disappear once the fix is applied.