Windows 7 Starter – Black Desktop Background after Activation

I purchased a netbook about 4-5 months back that came with a Windows 7 Starter licence key but no software. I managed to get a copy of Windows 7 Starter installed and all was running fine – though it never asked me to enter the product key!

But all was running fine until a few months later when I’d decided to sell the netbook. When I powered it up I got a message telling me that my copy of Windows was not “genuine” and that I may be a victim of software piracy. It had also turned off the desktop background, so my desktop was now a rather boring, plain black! Based on the fact the netbook had the product key on a sticker attached to it, I was pretty sure this was just another case of Microsoft’s draconian steps being a bit, shall we say, WRONG!

So I opened up the activation screen, activated the software. It took about 5-10 minutes (and I’ve no idea why, presumably it sends a little information to Microsoft, which says yay or nay, amirite?). Now the activation went fine, eventually, but while the message telling me the software wasn’t genuine was gone, my desktop was still black. And as we all know, Windows 7 Crippled Edition Starter doesn’t allow you to change your desktop.

Uh-oh – a buyer might not be best pleased by this, especially as I’d just taken a photo to list showing the nice pretty blue Windows 7 background.

Anyway, I Googled a bit and after a while I came across the solution. it’s actually fairly straightforward but just tricky to find – nobody at Microsoft Answers┬áseemed to have an answer, but here it is:

  1. Open the Registry Editor (by opening the Start menu and typing “regedit” in the search/run box)
  2. Find the key under /HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Control Panel/Desktop called Wallpaper.  This should be empty (hence the plain background, presumably).
  3. Right-click this key and Modify the value to the location of the image (e.g. C:\Windows\Web\Wallpaper\Windows\img0.jpg )

Now I did this to restore the original image after Microsoft ballsed it up, but it did get me wondering if the same technique could be used to change your Windows 7 Starter background to any image you wanted and thus overcome the stupid restriction impost by Microsoft. To be continued…

Author: nerd.

An experienced IT professional, I used to run a number of small websites and spend a lot of time tinkering with my sites or my PC - back when I had free time.

7 thoughts on “Windows 7 Starter – Black Desktop Background after Activation”

  1. I searched regedit, but all that showed up was handsafe and handler. I had previously taken ownership of the folder which the wallpaper is stored, and changed the picture (c:\Windows\Web\Wallpaper\windows\img0.jpg) I also downloaded Oceanis, but the screen is still black, and when I move a window, you can see the background under the window, but when you stop moving the window, the desktop goes black again. What do I do?

  2. in the first place your black images came from windows update … Windows Activation Technologies to detect activation exploits..and Tampering the key windows system files….. when this update( kb971033) saw your computer as tampered or not genuine… a sentence on your right corner of your desktop will appear “you might be a victim of a counterfeiting” so it will override your desktop masking the messages…. it turn into black coz you tweak the system to remove the default images what you actually see there is the mask..

    in order to solve this problem you should find a clean windows 7 starter pack… maybe the copy that you got have a tweak to inject its own activation key… you can get a windows 7 starter oem (x86)installer in torrent.. just make sure its a clean no crack nor inject.. then input the license key at the back of your netbook.. cheers!!!

  3. Hi Charlie,

    Thanks for the tip, but my problem was I knew my copy was genuine, I’d just never been asked to activate it. The activation was successful, so clearly Microsoft verified it as a legit OEM install, but the black desktop stayed until I did the above. These sorts of false positives are a pain in the ass for an IT professional like myself, but they could easily confuse an average user, especially if they think they’re going to get into bother for having hooky software!

  4. To do so, open Control Panel > Display. In the left side navigation panel, click on Change color scheme. Now in the Windows color and appearance box which opens up, from the drop-down menu under Color scheme, select Windows Classic. Click Apply. Next in the color scheme drop-down list, select Windows 7 Basic and click OK.

  5. Ive been messing around downloading supposed background changers and it has now left my screen black. I tried to do the method above but i dont have the step: Desktop called wallpaper so therefore i cant do that method.
    Please help and respond quickly.
    Thank you

  6. Thank you kind sir! I had this problem because I procrastinated activating windows 7 starter after a fresh install. Once activated, the system doesn’t bother to fix the registry entry back to the way it was. I didnt know where to look and you hit it on the head. Thanks a bunch!

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