Beware of Microsoft Windows anti-piracy update KB971033

If you are running a pirated copy of Windows 7 or a copy with a non-genuine activation key, the smartest thing to do is to keep low profile because Microsoft will be pushing out a new update to Windows 7 that will close a number of loopholes that counterfeiters had used to foil the operating system’s built-in antipiracy measures.


The update numbered KB971033, better known as Windows Activation Technology (WAT), will detect more than 70 known and potentially dangerous activation exploits. If it detects your copy of Windows is pirated it will promptly downgrade you to the non-genuine status.

The background wallpaper will change to black. You can set it back to whatever you want, but once an hour or so it will reset again to black.

Various “nag” notifications will appear at intervals to “remind” you that your system has been tagged as a likely pirate and offering you the opportunity to “come clean” — becoming authorized and legitimate by buying a new Windows 7 license. Some of these nags will be windows that appear at boot or login time, others will appear frequently (perhaps every 20 minutes or so) as main screen windows and taskbar popup notices.

But that’s not all. The update will phone home to Microsoft servers every 90 days to make sure you are running a genuine Windows. The WAT will connect to the servers even if they are manually blocked by firewall policies.

Fortunately, the update will not be forced into your OS through Windows Update until later this month (February 23). Even then you will have the option to choose not to install it. Windows 7 users are advised to manually set which updates they want to install, even if they are running a genuine copy of Windows because validation tools are known to go wrong locking legitimate users out of the system. And you wouldn’t want that to happen every 90 days.

[via The Next Web and CNet]

This Article Has 26 Comments
  1. Anonymous Reply

    i think you mean KB971033

  2. Anonymous Reply

    Your article sounds a little paranoid. According to Ed Bott it'll only download signature updates every 90 days.
    That's not exactly phoning home, now is it?

  3. Kaushik Patowary Reply

    @Anonymous: Thanks. Fixed it.

    @thadarklord: The WAT will download new signature updates and will also run them to validate, every 90 days. So new signatures or not, validation will run every 3 months.

    Call me paranoid, but I don't like it.

  4. Anonymous Reply

    At the bottom: "validation tools are non to go wrong" should read "validation tools are known to go wrong".

    • Anonymous Reply

      This patch flattened my boot files on my Wn7. Black screen, windows repair at boot, can't repair. Just fked.

      I Did not install the patch. It auto installed at shutdown. I disabled win updates and auto anything before this, but they raped me regardless. Now I have to restore the mfer from backup and pray.

  5. Kaushik Patowary Reply

    Arghhh… typos. I'm really good at those.

  6. Unknown Reply

    just cause i wont let them install their updates they determined that the program was not genuine….had all same stuff as above bhlack screen etc…is it enought to down my system like 98 did??wipe me out and lost all data??

  7. Anonymous Reply

    I think I am experiencing this problem. Because my OS keeps on restarting every 2hours. And i have done everything to fix it but it was no use. How am I supposed to buy a licensed Windows when how much I am earning is not enough.

    Is there a FIX to this problem?

  8. Kaushik Patowary Reply

    @Anonymous: That's because you are running build 7100 whose free trial period has expired. This isn't because of this update. Upgrading to the released version is the only solution.

  9. Anonymous Reply

    You mean upgrading to build 7600?

    Thanks for replying.

  10. Anonymous Reply

    to all: ive been on both sides, legit ownership and nonlegit, and I'll tell you, I never had to jump through so many hoops as I did when I actually SPENT the 300+ dollars for vista, xp, etc.. It was so bad I switched back to pirate just because it ran better. If microsoft wants people to buy their software, maybe they should stop punishing everyone, in the end–its the legit users that are getting the shaft since the nonlegit copies already took out the shaft – thanks for the post guys

  11. Anonymous Reply

    Hi folks!


    You are not a "To Windows or not to be" fanatic…

    You need a secure, solid and trustable OS which won't let you down on internet apps or real secure online banking, on office tasks, on google earthing, on video skypeing…

    You need to remote work on your Windows business machine…

    You really ARE sick that you must pay hundreds of dollars each time for a same "copy and paste" function, just with a "better" interface…

    Last but not least: You know that there is an option of being legally free.

    Then why not thinking to switch to Linux where you can do all above (and definitely much more).

    It is no more the socalled "unuserfriendly" OS anymore, so that even Windows has put it into it's hardest opponents… Just make a little search on linux based OS's like ubuntu or openSuse or Google OS… There are hundreds of solutions…

    Microsoft makes the whole profit on earth and wants just the more.


    Many times i tried to switch to linux. In a way, i was too unclever to use it, many softwares did not fuction correctly or as i wish. Now trying out a latest linux based OS.

    I can honestly say, linux has made a great progress. Having 2 OS on my machine. Donot need desperately the Windows side anymore.

    I do not try you just to switch in a day… I just want to courage you on THINKING OF IT.

    This greed must be stopped, don't you think?

  12. Anonymous Reply

    Micro$oft is fighting a losing battle against the hacker community. There's thousands of kids, with too much time on their hands, coming up with new hacks everyday. Micro$oft is like a dog chasing its own tail. The problem is that this dog is biting legitimate users of their software and that's going to cost them in the long run.

    If they sold their rubbish at a reasonable price, then I'm sure that most people who run pirated versions would pay for a legitimate version and they wouldn't have to put these "phone home" every 3 months updates out there.

    I just bought a laptop that came with Windows 7 preinstalled by the OEM. It's a 64 bit version and it's next to useless. I can't run my old printer because I can't find a 64 bit driver for it. I can't run some of my old software because everytime I try to install something I get warning messages about compatibility issues. To top all this off, they now want to install an update which will phone home every 3 months… presumably to tell them about all the software that just wont run on this machine.

    I was told to turn off updates before connecting the machine on the internet and I'm now glad that I listened.

    I'm not installing any updates to this machine. They can stick their big brother update where the sun don't shine.

    If I understood computers a bit better I'd change it over to linux.

  13. Anonymous Reply

    Just a couple of thoughts? What constitutes what a "reasonable price" is? If the price is too high the demand will decrease. If you don't think it is worth the money, stop complaining and don't buy it. I really get sick of the "I don't think its worth that much so I will BREAK THE LAW and steal it" mentality. As was mentioned, Ubuntu and other open source linux distros are becoming more viable for non-technical users every day. Add to that projects like WINE to address program compatibility and Windows is becoming less of the only option for users. (And yes, I know Apple products are out there as well and they have a very vocal and loyal following.) Regarding the "greed must be stopped" comment, that "greed" as you put it has created so many innovations it's not even funny.

    As far as the KB971033 goes, I am not too fond of it either. I really don't like anti-piracy measures because in reality most of the time they only punish those who actually purchase the software. I understand the need for them and the desire to receive remuneration for their work and don't fault them for that.

  14. Anonymous Reply

    Where exactly is the innovation that Microsoft delivers? I mean, Windows is a rip from IBM OS2. They bought the Word and Excel products, and then bought Sybase SQL Server branded it as their own. They also bought out Norton Novell and built that into Windows for their networking, and then their security suite and called that Windows Security. And their .Net stuff is basically a rip off Java that only works on Windows. All they do it rip-off other innovators or buy them out, and then stamp their name on it. So where exactly is all this 'innovation'?

  15. Anonymous Reply

    it is locking out us that bought it all so and they say they can do not one thing at all so we have to reformat again and again it is all so the real windows 7 so they can kiss my butt i am going back to windows xp pro

  16. Anonymous Reply

    I have a genuine version of windows 7 I purchased from a major computer retailer and it went black and told me it wasn't genuine. After much corrospondence with Microsoft they admitted it was in fact genuine but after several weeks of me having to jump through hoops for them. End result was after using windows all my life i have now switched 90% of the time to Linux Ubuntu. I only use windows to run my games. Also dont waste your time buying Microsoft Word for $160 download open office for free it works just as well and is word doc compatible. Ex microsoft loyal user.screw you microsoft.

  17. Anonymous Reply

    My copy of windows is locked up and it wont let me reformat my hard drive isnt showing up??????

  18. Anonymous Reply

    I'm running a non legit version and I haven't had any issues and here it is May of 2011 and I'm still running my non legit version with KB971033 installed…Billy boy, you'll just have to try harder, you haven't got me yet!

  19. Anonymous Reply

    My KB971033 is also installed from 10th MARCH 2011. But I havnt found any problems. its runnin win7 32bit buil 7600

  20. Anonymous Reply


  21. Anonymous Reply

    antivirus….well its BUSINNESS ….u got viruses on computer …..u go to the store….or DOWNLOAD…the same with programs upgrade windows a little so u but new windows everytime and…waste yor money

  22. Anonymous Reply

    i think i have kb971033 installed and want it off but cant find it. i have sp3 installed also, in there?

  23. Anonymous Reply

    i bought a dell laptop last year october..had a win 7 home basic..but shit it was a 64 bit OS and I was unable to run my old useful softwares. I was also in dire need of 64 bit drivers..thanx a friend of mine gave me a copy of win 7 32 bit….now all is fine….

    folks, just tell me one thing….what would happen if microsoft detects that I am no longer using a genuine copy?? Sorry, I am a bit scared..There are numerous rumours about microsoft tracking and catching non legit users….would please anyone tell me what would happen? By the way, I don't download updates….they just make the system heavy and too resource hogging.

  24. hector Reply

    by the way I am presently using an activator….

  25. Anonymous Reply

    haha, im stuck with it at the moment 😛 after 30 mins or so some windows become unclickable (nothing crashes it just runs stuck and you need i need to press the reset button. reinstalling windows when in windows isn't a good idea either, it lets you install until its almost done inflating, then it removes the install, restarts and comes back saying installation failed BUT you can still use the broken one and with a big smile tolling me to buy it 😛 if that isn't enough you cant open taskmanager, and if you go find out why that is, the windows report says something like "unable to update taskbar in a inactive window". im actually so surprised about the effort they took to troll me that its actually funny. and if you believe you are fine, just wait a few days 😛 its every 90 days at minimal. i think ill install me legit windows XP again. or maybe eventually switch to Linux after all.

    and btw, they are trolling everyone, except those people who paid for it can enter the serial again 😛 and for all crack users, every 90 days all cracks will be useless again. maybe consider reinstalling windows every 90day is a good idea (its 90 days trail anyways). ohh and if you uninstalled that patch, dont bother getting happy, its already too late. your next. roflmao ^^ im having fun here. the developers are probably laughing their asses off too 😛

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