[Fix] Windows 7 is not Genuine Error Message, Make It Original and Activated Again

Its a common problem which lots of Windows 7 users face. We have received many emails about this problem, so today we are sharing a working solution for it. In fact many Windows 7 SP1 RC users are also facing this problem.

Problem Symptom:

You were using genuine Windows 7 without any problem. It was activated properly. But one day when you logged into Windows, you received following message:

Windows is not genuine
Your computer might not be running a counterfeit copy of Windows.


Along with the above mentioned message, you also noticed that the desktop background became black and following error message was shown on the bottom right corner of the screen:

This copy of Windows is not genuine.

Also when you checked System Properties, you got following error message:

You must activate today. Activate Windows now.

Problem Cause:

Actually this problem occurs when there is a lack of permissions on a registry key "HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-20". By default, System, Network Service and Administrator accounts have "Full Control" and "Read" permissions on this registry key. But sometimes "Network Service" doesn't have proper permissions on this registry key and you face this problem. This may be the result of applying a Plug and Play Group Policy object (GPO). The Licensing service uses Plug and Play to obtain your system hardware ID information and binds the license to the computer. By default, it doesn't have proper permissions to access Plug and Play service.

Problem Solution:

There are 2 solutions actually. You can try them one by one:


1. Open Command Prompt as Administrator as mentioned here and then type rsop.msc and press Enter. It'll open RSOP (Resultant Set Of Policy) window.

2. Now go to:

Computer Configuration/Windows Settings/Security Settings/System Services

3. In right-side pane, check "Startup" type of "Plug and Play" service. It should be set to "Not Defined". If its not, double-click on it and set its Startup type to "Automatic".


4. Now provide following command in RUN or Command Prompt:

gpupdate /force

5. That's it. Restart your system and your problem should be fixed.

METHOD 2: Using Registry Editor

1. Type regedit in RUN or Start Menu search box and press Enter. It'll open Registry Editor.

2. Now go to following key:


3. Right-click on "S-1-5-20" key and select "Permissions...". It'll open a new window.

4. Select "NETWORK SERVICE" in user list and check "Allow" box given for "Full Control" permission. Click on OK button to apply the changes.


NOTE: If "NETWORK SERVICE" is not present in user list, click on "Add" button. Now type Network Service in "Enter the object names to select type" and click on "Check Names" button. It'll detect and confirm the username. Click on OK button.

5. That's it. Restart your system and your problem should be fixed.

Also Check:

Download Genuine Windows 7 RTM with SP1 ISO (32-bit and 64-bit)

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Posted in: Troubleshooting, Windows 7

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  • OMG. I saw that message on my desktop, freaked out and restarted my netbook. Then I read your article, and checked whether I got the System Properties thing. But it said "Windows is activated". I checked and saw that my watermark was gone, and now I'm here, with only the black background left. Strange?

  • VG

    ^^ It happens sometimes when Windows accidentally identify genuine Windows as pirated.

  • Thanks a lot - you're a mighty fellow. Solved 2 of my biggest software problems. SO lotta love too all you smart people out there!


  • hey... neither of the 2 methods work. what should i do? i'm worried coz microsoft might shoot me and kill me and eat me... pfff!... ugh. is there aother way? please help us again. thanks.

  • i use win7 ultimate but after i reinstalling win7 i hearing bad AUDIO quality(5.1) and all audio settings are good but before installation it was properly working...how can i fix it pls help.

  • VG

    ^^ It might be because of incorrect audio drivers. Try to install audio drivers using your motherboard CD.

  • nothing is happening i tried all methods n all things r as it is as u say.......................

  • help me plz

  • do i have to save the changes i made on the resultant change of policy??? in method 1??

  • my windows 7 home basic was genuine....i upgraded it using keys and changed it to ultimate....but after some days it showed that windows 7 is not genuine....i tried all your mathods but i have not been able to fix it...please help me out

  • Is there any fix like this for 2010 office professional plus?

  • look i am a 13 year old kid.... i use a intel i5, windows 7 ultimate, 3.1ghz, 4 gb ram
    and i had cr**ked windows 7 earlier but now it is giving me that stupid error and in the properties of my comp it shows intel core 2duo wheras i use i5........
    plz help i am also ok with the normal version but i want use my comp neatly....
    i dont want those updates or someting....
    cause when this activate windows box comes it just slows down my comp......

  • So, I am having this problem & I tried method 1, and it wouldn't let me choose automatic. I then tried method2, and next to Full Control, Allow was already checked.
    (you did a good job at giving the instructions, btw! Every other site Im finding is confusing, but yours was very clear, even if my computer wasn't allowing me to follow it :) )

  • VG

    ^^ Is your Windows genuine or a pirated one? Because the above mentioned methods will only work if your Windows is actually genuine but somehow your computer is detecting it as pirated.

  • it happens ,now i m trying this method......

  • i use home vista and am facing this same problem...would it work on my pc.

  • I got this error after upgrading my hard drive and the chipset drivers did not recognize the larger drive correctly.

  • I tried both methods and still get the same results, do you have any other suggestions....

  • Run services.msc and check if Software Protection is set to Automatic (Delayed Start).

    Service name: sppsvc
    Display name: Software Protection
    Description: Enables the download, installation and enforcement of digital licenses for Windows and Windows applications. If the service is disabled, the operating system and licensed applications may run in a notification mode. It is strongly recommended that you not disable the Software Protection service.

    Restart after setting startup type to Automatic (Delayed Start)

  • i want other way to activate
    because in properties there is no option of activation so how can i activate it.

  • i ran through this advice step by step still wont activate my windows

  • both methods are not working.pls help

  • I am giving up hope on this. My problem is not quite the same as a pirated version is not suspected, I just need to keep reactivating Windows every three days because it says a hardware or driver has been changed. I have tried a 'fix' in the Windows 7 forum which didn't work. I tried the two methods here and thought it has worked because Windows was activated so I was so happy and sent a feedback comment. However, every time the computer is restarted the activation problem returns. It seems that the changes are not saved.

    Trying yet, and yet again, after the last VG's last instruction on the RSOP if one presses Enter we get
    User Policy update has completed successfully.
    Computer Policy update has completed successfully.
    The problem remained after a restart.

    So I closed the box next time and got a message

    Save console settings to rsop with a Yes, No, or Cancel

    I tried the Yes and a 'Save as' box appeared with the suggestion to save in System32. Not knowing what else to select from the drop down box I went ahead and got

    Microsoft Management Console
    This snap-in console file (C:\Windows\System32\rsop.msc) was saved with an
    earlier version of Microsoft Management Console (MMC). Do you want to update
    it to MMC version 3.0 format?
    To update the file, click Yes. You will no longer be able to use the file with earlier
    versions of MMC.
    To discard changes, click No.

    I tried both of these and still get the activation problem.

    I ran sfc /scannow to correct any system files I may have changed.

    So it seems that it has to be a Microsoft support job and I being in the UK I have to phone a chargeable number. I don't suppose even VG can help me.

    Originally when I updated from XP to Windows 7 Ultimate, I had the same activation problem and a Microsoft technician sorted it by remote access. Now two years later I decided to reinstall the program and lo and behold the activation problem is back, hence these visits to AskVG.

    Is there anyone out there who can sort this???

  • I restarted my computer twice yesterday and again this morning. The activation problem has gone!

    How did it happen? Well, I trawled the Net thoroughly on the grounds that someone, somewhere would have had the same problem that every time the computer is restarted it needed to be reactivated. I found an answer. Full of doubt and almost certain it would not work, I created a repair disk (Windows 7) Start, type in the run box 'create repair disk' and followed the simple instruction. Put in the completed disk and it started by doing a memory check. Pass 1 took a long time, so I didn't wait to see Pass 2 or whatever else it might do. When I returned to the room Windows was restarting and the problem had gone. I am a very happy bunny.

    Hope this helps somebody else.

  • Worked for a few days and the problem has now returned!!!

  • read your article on win/8 asking for act/code, and all symtoms are bang on. only thing is that a mate installed w8 disc ,i was there all the time and i known him 30yrs plus. but what happened is that he never finished installing till silly oklock in morning, by that time he was pissed out of his head. anyway, could it be that its asking for this code which lost,gone? and its saying windows 8 is activated...but it just needs code?? friend a heavy drinker...so no reciept ,just one of those things a. does that change any of your article advice or should i save up for a long time in order to buy a new one. would be greatful for any advice . try to get back to me . many thanks tommy

  • hi vishal, the pc works each day for 2-3 weeks now, although it keeps telling me that my passwords dont match and my email doesnt match the one they have for me..... even though ive not got around to registering account with microsoft. would be very greatful if you could get back to me when your free.you seem to be very clued up on this stuff. many thanks vishal and hope to hear back from you. ps: im from scotland next to culloden.

  • VG

    ^^ Hi. Sorry to say but I cant understand your problem. Can you please describe your problem properly?

  • Hi i found it worth mentioning that there is a nice app ''Advanced token manager''. It creates a backup copy of windows activation as well as MSoffice activation which can be used to restore later easily. I found it extremely usefull when i had to re-install windows. It restored windows activation successfully offline mode almost instantly. It takes much less time than usual win activation process. But it works only if u installed exactly same version of windows that created the backup file.

    This can b available here:joshcellsoftwares.com/products/advancedtokensmanager/

  • I tried to do both of these steps but I can't do neither. I get to a certian point and it wouldn't let me do X. I tried to do fix 2. Only to discover that the Registy thing has the "Allowed full control" For the Former I try to do excatly what it says on here to do. But when I double click on Plug and Pay all I get is- greyout box so I can't do that. I know my copy of Windows is Genuine.

  • It doesn't show "Permissions" in S-1-5-20

    In other method. I am not able to set Startup type to "Automatic"

    Please help

  • my original window cd is damage and i have cd key can i install from another cd and gave original key its work or not

  • VG

    ^^ Yes. You can:


  • thanks , works on my windows.. looking for smart advice finally found it

  • Thanks you a lot your site help me several times .....

    I've downloaded a month ago the " netframework 3;5 offline installer " and when i use it ; good it enables the features.... today i try it one my nephew's laptop ,,,,,,no work . WhY ?
    but it show me "netfamework is installed sucessfully " and the application asks to enable it again

    Please HELP

  • This issue is with the HP laptop just purchased with Windows installed but no SP1. Windows Ultimate 32bit showed as activated even after I downloaded and installed the updated SP1.
    Subsequently Windows updates have taken place and most of these have been successful. However after updates the message ' this copy of Windows is not genuine' appeared in lower right hand side screen area. Now I located the update KB file and uninstalled it and have run both of your recommended methods: to no avail because the same message still shows. Interestingly the Network Service had ticks in Allow already. SO I'm wondering what else might be blocking this fix?


  • VG

    ^^ You should contact Microsoft support and tell them about this problem. Also make sure the Windows which came preinstalled with your system is genuine. May be the computer dealer installed a pirated copy of Windows in your laptop?

  • Man method two was already as described but method one might have worked, only it wont allow me to change anything in the permissions (yes I am admin and only user) it just has all options greyed out. That's for step 3 of method 1 BTW. is there a way around this?

  • RSOP will not allow changing - all options greyed out.

    RegEdit - Network Service is already set as "Full Control"

    Win7 Ultimate Pro 64bit - installed over 2 years ago, worked flawlessly - this problem started about a week ago.

    Really don't want to re-install from scratch, unless I am left with no other options.

  • @VG, Jimmy & Kevin

    In the first method, instead of writing the command in run or search box, type this command (rsop.msc) in cmd(as admin),follow the rest of the article and see if it works 4 u.
    I would like to request VG to update his article accordingly as i myself faced this problem and cmd was my solution.

    -3rd Feb. 2014, 06:10 GMT

  • VG

    ^^ Done.

  • Wow - still greyed, unable to change setting.

    Contacted MicroSquish tech support - they tell me that my hardware configuration has changed (It hasn't - well, it hadn't when this problem began a week or so ago.) and that I need a new Windows Product Key, which they will happily sell me for $40. They also tell me doing a full re-install will not work, as I will have the same problem.
    I realize that MS Tech Support people are NOT there to help, they are there to follow a script, and to sell me something, but this is absurd. Why do I not believe them when they tell me re-installing my O/S will fail?

    Monday 03 Feb 2014, 23:47 GMT ( I like the way you time-stamped your post, rkkdjb - that seems quite useful.)

  • @Kevin
    Did u try it with just cmd prompt or cmd(as admin)prompt bcoz that makes a huge difference?
    And i think u posted the above comment at 11:47a.m. and not p.m.

    -3rd Feb 2014, 12:19 GMT

  • ^^
    To add to the above u can also access services by typing 'services.msc' in the run box or even cmd(as admin) and then proceed accordingly.
    Plz try and tell if it worked for u otherwise i will give u further options.

    -3rd Feb 2014, 12:32 GMT

  • Yes, I did make certain to select "Run as Admin" when I opened the command prompt.

    Time stamp - yes, it turns out my dual readout desktop clock had the GMT setting 12 hours out of phase. D'Oh!!!

    Tues, 4 Feb 2014, 05:05 GMT. (TimeStamp corrected, finally)

  • @Kevin
    First did u try services.msc? and secondly u reminded me that incorrect date maybe a reason for this and hence u should synchronize ur date and time through the net and restart and then try & see the result, otherwise can u plz post a screenshot of ur desktop.

    -4th Feb 2014, 06:46 GMT

  • I have found a temporary fix. I used the slmgr -rearm command which reset the 30-day grace period. The main Windows clock was correctly set & syncs normally, I have a "Windows Gadget" clock that reads dual time zones on the desktop, one set local, one set to GMT - that every so often goes wonky & starts listing GMT 12 hours out of phase. I reset it.

    Services.msc brought up through the admin cmd line also had greyed out options for reseting the permissions.

    Not sure how to post a screenie here, so I'll post a link to where I uploaded it to my Flickr page:

    -4 Feb '14, 09:46GMT

  • @Kevin

    So the last resort is to try the above procedure in safe mode. u may also try to activate ur windows again. otherwise i m done and VG will help u.
    P.S. if successful backup ur license:

    -4th Feb 2014, 13:49 GMT

  • So.... I've tried this, and everything is as it should be. My issue started when my c drive renamed itself to Card and Puzzle Board.... Any ideas what could have caused this? Or how to fix it?

  • i want to say that i try all the things but there is no response in making my window genuine

  • hi i had a genuine windows pre installed on my lap top but my hard disc burnt and i reinstalled windows 7 on new hard disc with pirated windows 7 i have the original key with me on my computer now how can i make this a genuine one with it kindly help

  • VG

    ^^ You can download a genuine Windows 7 copy using following article:


    And use your original product key to install it in your system.

  • I tried both of the methods and nothing happened put something worth using i am using windows 7 ultimate 32 bit on my laptop dell inspiron

  • even though i tried those steps but still my pc is showing "the copy ofd windows is not genuine". What can i do?

  • hi admin . actually keeping this message to make you know that when i am trying to make the plug and play define as [automatic] it shows security disabaled i can make it automatic any help regarding this !

  • there is no PERMISSIONS button in S-1-5-20 to click it ... what should i do

  • VG

    ^^ You need to right-click on the key to get Permissions option.

  • I tried with the command
    and it works for 3 months only.
    Not m looking for another way to reactive the windows. All of the methods mentioned above have been tried but it doesn't work. m using a pirated copy.

  • VG

    ^^ These methods will not work in pirated Windows.

  • I have window 7 ultimate with three user accounts one is guest second is my personal account {which is a standard user} and third is my fathers accounts with password. he forgot the password {it is adminstrator} i want my account to be adminstratopr and i cant change my account type in the user account menu in the option change your account type................please solve my problem, please.

  • Ok with idiom the first method it says I can't access it my computer dose not have a bios folder and it won't get genuine do to this got any tips on how I get my bios folder back I have a dell inspiron windows 7 ultimate

  • Thnkx a tonnz!!!!!!
    It worked for me.. Yippie... :)
    Thumbss up ...

  • When I try the first method command prompt says: 'rsop.msc' is not recognised as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file.
    When I try the second method it says that NETWORK SERVICE already has Full control.
    I also found that at the point when this problem began, my most used user account was gone. Not the laptop's main account, just my main computer account.
    I have a feeling that it was to do with my sister, who i think held down the power button and turned it off while it was turning off. When I left it to turn on, (because my laptop takes ages to turn on) I found that Startup Repair had launched. I found this a bit strange and cancelled it, which then restarted my computer. I then made the mistake of leaving it to turn on again, after which I found Startup Repair had launched again. This time it was too late to cancel so I waited until it had finished and then pressed finish, which restarted my laptop again. This time, I watched it carefully. Startup repair didn't come on this time. instead the user accounts page popped up, but without my main account! I got pretty worried and went on my old account, which was also an admin account. This is when the 'Counterfeit windows' message popped up. My desktop was black (I've now set it to white so I don't have to see the message), and the message about 'not genuine windows' in the corner. I got this laptop from my grandma, so I don't know the product key.

  • Bro what for pirated ones?

  • VG

    ^^ Buy genuine Windows. ;)

  • I reinstalled Intel rst Driver and updated all is good

  • i trird for 1st method it didnt work. i tried for second too but i didnt find "permissions" options under "s-1-5-20" key in my laptop.. what to do???

  • I just did a system reset to remedy this, and it worked better than all the other complicated fixes. It's most likely virus related, I personally suspect that it's VLC Video & Music Player when downloaded, that in turn launches malware, for those who do not donate?

  • If you have your product key: xxxxx-ddddd-ddddd-ddddd-ddddd,

    go to "Control Panel > System, scroll to bottom of page and reinsert your product key.

    When you go back to your desktop, the notice in the right lower corner will no longer be there.

  • Neither method works.

    Getting message rsop.msc is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file when I use Method 1.

    Using Method 2... gives another error message, The application was unable to start correctly (0xc000007b).

    Any suggestions or help...?

  • RSOP.MSC console all services options for Manual or Automatic start-up are greyed out, cannot change settings. Network Service has Full control on read and write. Used Elevated Command Prompt to reach RSOP.MSC>Computer Configuration>Windows Settings>Security Settings>System Services>PlugNPlay.

    Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit OS,
    Dell Inspiron E6540

    Validation issue started with install of new drivers for Intel Network cards (NIC, WiFi, BT, etc).

  • I've had my computer for at least two years now. I'd like to say in-between three to four, but I don't know how accurate that is. Regardless, I'm getting this error message now. My copy of Win. 7 is genuine, I purchased it was it was starting to be released. I tried both of your methods only to be disappointed that my computer had those settings already in place; I still receive the same error message.

  • I try to activate windows by Using RSOP method but when I reach on last option Plug and Play" Startup type it was inactive . Can anyone tell how to make it active to change Startup type to "Automatic" or is there any other way to activate windows,

  • both methods are not working please helllp !!!!!!!!!!!! :(

  • Hey man,

    I'm trying the second method but I can't change the settings of my '' plug and play '' any help on this? It's on not defined and I can't set it into automatic. Some help on this would be great!


  • Hey man,

    I'm trying the first method but I can't change the settings of my '' plug and play '' any help on this? It's on not defined and I can't set it into automatic. Some help on this would be great!


  • I have the check boxes clicked but still getting same error.

  • Hey, bro. Can't I make the windows 7 professional genuine even if it's a pirated copy? Any method? Will be great if there is any?

  • VG

    ^^ Sorry but no illegal discussion is allowed here.

  • bro is this illegal? that can cause shut down when detected?

  • VG

    ^^ We don not discuss about illegal things. So the method given here is absolutely legal.

  • Why not be set to automatic? cannot click.. thanks

  • i tried 2 methods both are ok. but restarting my laptop it will again shows this copy of windows is not genuine. then what i need to do? please suggest me..........

  • my windows of pc is not genuine.pls send a fixed solution for life time which will be upgradable

  • I have a machine that has parental controls on it and the child account with controls gives widows not activated message every few weeks, but if you go in parent account it shows windows activated and wen you go back to child account now shows activate. I am guessing a problem with Microsoft parental control but not seen a solution o internet

  • it's not working

  • not working

  • Yes,It worked for my system(Windows 7 Ultimate,32-bit)
    Thanks for the code.

  • hi,

    I tried to follow your instructions, but the part where im supposed to choose automatic in plug and play is not possible on my laptop. That part is grayed out and cannot be selected. Im wondering what could cause this and how to resolve it. I managed to restart my computer after following the 2nd step, and im able to re arm, change the wallpaper, but the water mark for this copy of windows is not genuine is still in the bottom right side of my screen. I am hoping you can shed light on this one.


  • Problem solved but still my wallpaper appears blank/black. Is it common?

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