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False Piracy Warnings

Windows Update behind epidemic of false 'Windows Activation' piracy warnings

By Graeme Burton

17 Dec 2014


Thousands of Microsoft Windows users have been affected by a glitch with one of the latest Windows Updates that accuses them of running pirated versions of Windows. As a result, users have been presented with messages demanding that they activate Windows every time they log in to their machine and, often, when they are using it as well.

The cause, according to Microsoft, were glitches in Windows Update KB 3004394, which Microsoft initially remained tight-lipped about. The Update was replaced by a freshly released Windows Update patch, KB 3024777, which Microsoft is urging users to download and install to overcome the problems.

The glitch caused multiple different problems, not just with bogus Windows Activation requests, but also caused plug-ins not to start, prevented the Windows Defender firewall and Security Essentials anti-virus from installing and problems with the AMD Catalyst Omega driver. Furthermore, it prevented further Windows Updates from being installed. In addition, while Microsoft initially advised users to manually uninstall KB 3004394, it wasn't possible for many users - as Microsoft admitted in a support article. "The ability to remove Windows Updates through Control Panel may no longer function on some Windows 7 SP1-based and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1-based computers after KB 3004394 is installed." Microsoft pulled the patch two days after it was released, although many users are still reporting problems. Nor is it the first Windows Update module from Microsoft to cause such problems.

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