Windows 7 gone wild.

After a year of smooth sailing with Windows 7, I have experienced a series of mysterious mishaps that left me scrambling to keep things under control. It all started last week when I clicked on my user icon to log on, the same one I’ve been using all along. Instead of my desktop appearing, Windows instead gave me a message about it preparing my desktop as if this was the first time I was logging on. After my desktop finally appeared, I got another message about my user profile not being able to load and that the default profile was loaded instead. I tried accessing the My Documents folder and found it empty. I later found that my data was still at the original location associated with my user profile, so I was still able to access my data. Somehow the profile configuration got messed up and I was using the default system profile instead of the one I’ve been using all along. After unsuccessfully researching the problem online, I decided to delete my user account and create a new one. I restored my data from a recent backup so I was back in business.

That is, I was in business until last night. When I got to the login screen after turning on my computer, I noticed that the user icon for my significant other was replaced with a blank icon that was simply labeled “Other User”. When I clicked on it, I was prompted for a password. Funny, I never set up any passwords when I created the user accounts, so why was I prompted for a password now?

Once again I took to the Internet to find out how to fix this problem. The fix sounded easy enough. Just launch your registry editor, go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList and delete the one profile entry that appears empty. But I didn’t see any empty profile entries there although I did see some extra entries in addition to the ones I created. I decided to delete these extra entries and then rebooted my system.

While that restored the user icons at the welcome screen, I was faced with a new problem. After logging on my profile, I saw this message in the lower right hand corner of my screen:

Windows 7
Build 7601
This copy of windows is not genuine

I had never seen this message before. I know I do have a genuine copy of Windows but I was left wondering what made Windows forget that. I tried going through the steps to reactivate Windows but I kept getting an “Access denied” error from running the slui.exe program. Nothing I found online offered any solution to this problem.

Then I realized I made a backup copy of the entries in the ProfileList branch of the registry before deleting I thought were unnecessary entries. That was the smartest thing I did all evening. Apparently one of those profiles was the one that assured Windows that it was genuine. I don’t know exactly which one it was but my deleting it was the cause of the problem.

So I restored the registry backup which brought back the blank “Other User” icon but it at least made the “Not Genuine” message go away. Once again I went into the registry and reviewed the ProfileList entries a second time and found an entry for which ProfileImagePath was blank. I deleted this entry, rebooted and got the user icons back in the Welcome screen. I no longer see that scary message about my copy of Windows not being genuine.

What a mess. I still don’t know what happened to cause it to start.

UPDATE:  After posting this entry, I closed my browser and once again saw the “Not Genuine” message on my desktop.  Once again I ran slui.exe but this time saw an option to activate Windows, which I selected. The activation was successful and the “Not Genuine” message disappeared. Is there no end to the madness?

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