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  • Report of KB 4038777 breaking activation on Dell machines

    Posted on September 18th, 2017 at 15:15 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Anybody else see this with the September Win7 Monthly Rollup, KB 4038777?

    An email from reader AJ:

    I saw your article regarding KB4038777. We are having an issue when this update is installed where it breaks the windows activation on Dell machines. Seems to be happening only to Dell Windows 7 Professional machines. Dell says to reimage, awaiting assistance from Microsoft. Still troubleshooting, currently no fix. Has anyone else pinged you on this?


    We actually just figured it out. Apparently the update removed Dell’s OEM folder from System32, and upon reboot Windows couldn’t validate its license. Fix is to replace OEM folder with a known good, then run:

    Slmgr /upk

    Slmgr /ilc oem.xrm-ms

    Slmgr /ato

    If that helped, take a second to support AskWoody on Patreon

    26 Responses to “Report of KB 4038777 breaking activation on Dell machines”

    1. DrBonzo says:

      I’m glad there’s a fix, but am I supposed to be able to do this by myself? Where/how do I get a known good copy of the Dell OEM folder?

      I’ve got a system image of my hard drive I made with the Windows 7 utility, but I don’t know how to get that folder from it.

      I don’t really understand what it is I’m supposed to run, either.

      I don’t think I’m a computer idiot, but this seems beyond the capability of most home users, and I’m sure there are many home users that have WIN7 Pro with no IT department to bail them out.

      I sure hope MS will fix the update and release one that works.

    2. DrBonzo says:

      OK, so that was probably a dumb knee-jerk reaction. Obviously I’ve got the oem folder on my hard drive right now, but then what? I install the patch, check to see if the folder is still there, copy the folder as it existed before installing the patch over to system32, and then reboot? Or run the 3 lines of code above before rebooting? Or…?

      Anyway, I hope MS gets it’s act together and releases a fixed patch.

    3. PKCano says:

      I would copy (make a duplicate of) the oem folder to another location BEFORE you run WU if you must jump ahead of the DEFCON system. Better to wait till DEFCON is 3 or above.

      After running WU and rebooting, if the folder is missing, I would copy (don’t MOVE it – leave the folder in a safe place) back.

    4. kdock says:

      Man am I glad I wait a month or so before applying patches!

      I have little enough time to spend on things I >should< be doing, let alone fixing something like this.

      The patch removed Dell's (and only Dell's) OEM folder? What kind of borked QC led to that? MSFT needs to switch to decaf.

      Good job figuring out the steps to fix it, and good advice, PKCano, to take precautions now that it's known.

    5. anonymous says:

      That cert shouldn’t ever be needed (or often even left on the OEM computer) unless you are erasing and reloading the licensing subsystem from scratch. I’m not even sure that is an official procedure.

      You’ll want to be careful with “/upk”. You should have your OEM cert extracted and ready and the right generic key for your hardware / manufacturer OR your license key sticker (fully readable!) before proceeding. Full system backup wouldn’t hurt.

    6. DrBonzo says:

      Thanks PKCano and Anonymous.

      I fully intend to wait until DEFCON 3 before doing anything. It’s just that I have absolutely no confidence that MS will admit there is a problem or that they will fix the patch. So, I’m trying to get prepared.

      I used to really like my WIN 7 machines, but over the past few months, I’ve come to dread the updates.

    7. jescott418 says:

      I’m just wondering why the update deleted this OEM folder in the first place?

    8. alpha128 says:

      My employer pushed KB4038777 to my Win 7 work machine yesterday.

      I didn’t notice any IE problems. However the “folder rename” bug that was present in the June patches is back.

      I had to re-enable libraries, run a repair of Microsoft Office and reboot. Then I could rename folders again. Finally, I disabled libraries again.

      What a pain. It seemed I spent my entire morning patching my machine and then fixing the damage.

    9. LuAnne Russell says:

      have windows 7 pro dell 64 bit – could someone post step by step instructions for a lay person so that i can be prepared when we get to defcon 3

    10. EC says:

      Have applied the September updates, including KB 4038777 to three identical windows 7 pro Dell 64 bit desktop computers. Two days later and they are all working fine–no problems, and the machines have been warm and cold booted more than once each.

    11. alpha128 says:

      EC says:

      “Have applied the September updates, including KB 4038777 to three identical windows 7 pro Dell 64 bit desktop computers. Two days later and they are all working fine…”

      I am also running a Windows 7 pro Dell 64, so that’s good to know. But I made a copy of my oem folder as PKCano suggested – just in case.

    12. LuAnne Russell says:

      Thank You EC! What about deleting the OEM folder after we made a copy and backed up the system – do the update and restore the oem foler from the recycle bin? Would this work if i end up with a problem. sure hope we don’t.

    13. PKCano says:

      @LuAnne Russell
      Do NOT delete the oem folder. Do NOT cut/paste or drag/drop the oem folder. When you make a COPY use copy/paste.

      Be sure you have an IMAGE of the computer. Copying the system doesn’t work. Also backup EVERYTHING (separately) under the User IDs

      If the update fails, you will have to restore the computer from the IMAGE.

      If you don’t understand these instructions, find someone who does to help you. But you really should WAIT for DEFCON 3 or above if possible.

    14. Luanne Russell says:

      Thank You PK!
      Don’t know how to do this.Am waiting for Defcon 3. Really having trouble finding someone to help.

    15. Luanne Russell says:

      Can anyone give me step by step instructions on how to do September windows 7 professional update and when where to enter code, where specifically to save the OeM folder and how to specifically replace the OeM folder after the update. All the technicians don’t know how to do this and don’t know what I’m talking about. I am waiting for Defcon 3 or more but I don’t think Microsoft is ever going to fix this. Dell support cannot help me either and is unaware of the issue. Help

    16. Stephen H says:

      Nervously (and having made two Macrium Reflect image backups of my hard drive, saved onto two different external drives), I have applied the September updates, including KB 4038777 to my Windows 7 Pro SP1 Dell 64 bit XPS 8300 desktop computer.

      After, all appears to be fine. Windows is starting normally, as are my applications.

    17. DrBonzo says:

      @LuAnne Russell I’m certainly no expert, but I think I can help for at least part of the process. I don’t know what your skill level is so apologies if I’m too detailed.

      On my Dell Win7 Pro 64 bit service pack 1, I get to the oem folder like this: Click Start, click computer, double click OS(C:), double click Windows folder, scroll down to System32 folder and double click, scroll down to oem folder.

      You want to copy the oem folder but NOT move it. When I get ready to update my computer I’m going to copy the oem folder to my desktop and just to be safe also to a usb flash drive. But don’t use the “drag and drop” method to do the copies. Instead, do this: place your cursor on the oem folder icon and right click. On the resulting drop down menu click “Copy”. It will seem like nothing happens. Then move your cursor to where you want the copy of the oem folder to be (in my case the desktop or the flash drive icon), right click and on the resulting menu click paste. You should then be able to see the oem folder at the desired location. If you need/want, you can practice this way of copying just by making a new folder and copying/pasting a file into it.

      Now, install the update as you normally would, and reboot (restart) your computer when asked. Hopefully, everything will work just fine, although to be honest, I’m not sure what the symptoms of a “broken activation” are. I’ll probably check to see if the oem folder got deleted from the system32 folder (see above).

      Here’s where my knowledge starts to fade, and I too would appreciate help. If the oem folder got deleted from the System32 folder, I’d be tempted to let it be that way, especially if everything is working. Otherwise you may need to put a copy of the oem folder from the desktop (or flash drive or wherever you put it above) back into the System32 folder using the same copy/paste method as above. You may also need to run the code mentioned at the very top of the this thread.

      As far as making a system image, it’s pretty easy. Make the image before you do anything above! Get yourself a usb hard drive with a capacity greater than or equal to your computer’s hard drive.. Plug it into a usb port and wait for your computer to recognize it. I personally wouldn’t install the backup software that probably comes with the drive but you can if you want. Then click Start, click all programs, click maintenance, click backup and restore. On the left side click create a system image. You’ll be guided through the process. It’s straightforward but could take a couple hours. You’ll use this image to get your computer back to normal if things really head south. But you won’t have the update patch.

      Any decent computer repair shop should be able to do this stuff, including running the code and reinstalling the system image if needed.

      It’s encouraging that there are folks with Dell Win7 Pro 64 bit computers who apparently aren’t having any problems.

      Perhaps AJ who first discovered this issue at the very top could provide more details on the Dell computers that had problems.

      Also if any experts out there can provide details about the code please do. And please correct me if I’ve said anything wrong!

      Well, this turned out to be pretty long, but hopefully it will be of some use.

    18. LuAnne Russell says:

      DrBonzo, Thank You! I have done all that you instructed. I really appreciate your instructions and help. Thanks so much. My only area of confusion now is how to enter the code. I read somewhere that you enter regedit and proceed with the code but that is where it gets a bit sketchy for me.
      Hopefully, someone will give us instructions on how to insert the code.
      Thank You so much and good luck!

    19. Ed says:

      @LuAnne Russell

      You say you’ve already done everything DrBonzo suggested… did you also create a “System repair disc” that’s suggested during the final steps of the image creation?

      If you chose not to create one return to the Backup and Restore panel and choose that option in the left pane, you will need a blank CD/DVD.

      A system repair CD isn’t just for restoring an image you create, it also comes in handy for a variety of other emergency purposes and it’s a very useful tool to have on hand. I’ve used it for “rescuing” Windows 7 on more than one occasion!

    20. JT says:

      Let me rephrase what Ed is saying: When Microsoft decides to screw up the operating system that you own (at their discretion), you will either need the rescue media or have to go buy another computer and lose everything… Typical Microsoft BS! All the money in the world but they cannot get ANYTHING to work correctly… This update is causing problems with other software as well – Spiceworks no longer works for those who are having this problem. I get a “Ping.exe” error every few minutes. Uninstall KB4038777 is only option.

    21. DrBonzo says:

      @LuAnne Russell

      Ed makes a good point! Start, All Programs, Maintenance, Create System Repair Disc. It’s easy, you’ll be guided through a couple steps and it takes only a few minutes.

      Also, since you have a Dell you may have a Dell Utility with a name something like Dell Backup and Recovery. Start, All Programs, Dell, Dell Backup and Recovery. At least that’s where it is on my 2 year old laptop. I had an old desktop where it was named a bit differently. This program will let you create a usb flash drive that will restore your computer to it’s original factory state. You would then have to reinstall all the updates and reload all programs you’ve added to your computer since you bought it, and that would be a hassle. That would be something I would consider paying a computer repair shop to do, although if things ever go bad I’d try the system repair disc or the system image first.

      I’m trying to get my Win 7 computer through January of 2020, but if things go bad, I’m not going to hesitate to go get a Mac and/or finally finish getting Ubuntu set up on an old laptop.

    22. LuAnne Russell says:

      Thank You ALL for your help. I have the repair disk and the backup at the ready. Thank You so much.

    23. Anonymous says:

      Have there been any reports of this effecting Windows 7 Home users? Everything I’ve found has only mentioned Pro.

    24. LuAnne RUSSELL says:

      Just updated Windows 7 pro and looks ok so far on reboot.

    25. anonymous says:

      Does anyone have a problem with Outlook 2010 Instant Search now after the September Windows update for Windows 7 pro?

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