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After a round of routine security updates, part of patch Tuesday last week, several Windows 7 corporate environment administrators reported that network locations were suddenly inaccessible, and systems were recognized as illegitimate.

Updates KB4480970 and KB4480960 to Windows 7 scared system administrators last week. The updates, which contain solutions to some important security problems, had unwanted side effects. For example, IT administrators reported that some users lost network access to SMB shares, while others, to their dismay, noticed that sometimes thousands of virtual machines were suddenly declared illegal by Microsoft. Devices running Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 were affected.

Microsoft has now solved both of these problems, and has announced that they were two totally different bugs. The first one was indeed related to the updates. Users who lost access to their network locations either had to count on a workaround with other accounts with custom rights or wait for an update. It is available today, and can be installed immediately.

No update problem

However, according to Microsoft, the activation problem had nothing to do with the updates. Last Tuesday, the software giant claimed to have made a change to validation servers. This meant that systems with an earlier update, KB971033, installed, were suddenly considered not to be activated.

KB971033 is an update without end user benefit, with the sole purpose of combating piracy of Windows. Microsoft recommends Enterprise customers with Key Management Service (KMS) or Multiple Activation Key (MAK) volume activation not to install the update, which is offered. Enterprise customers who did, will be asked to remove the update, even if they did not experience any activation problems in the past week.

One day after the first complaints about the activation of systems, Microsoft would have reversed the changes to its back-end server. This should, in principle, put an end to the problems.

Bad reputation

The fiasco doesn’t do much to change the increasingly bad name that Windows updates are getting. While it is always a good idea to install security updates as soon as possible, the above problems illustrate that this truth is not absolute. If you have a secure environment with intrusion prevention and virtual patching, you can hide behind that security for a day or two and watch the goings-on for the installation of security updates on critical systems.

With the activation problem, Microsoft also illustrates something that the occasional gamer has known for a long time. In the game sector, anti-piracy tools have been embraced for years. As a result, legitimate customers are punished with bugs, performance dips, and activation problems, while pirates don’t experience any problems because their version doesn’t include security. We wonder whether the anti-piracy benefits of KB971033 outweigh Microsoft’s reputation damage of the past week.

Related: Poor Windows 7 patch invalidates legal installations

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give Techzine.eu a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.