Fixing the Black Wallpaper Bug on Windows 7

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Windows 7 entered the end-of-life phase on January 14, 2020, when Microsoft released a final update for the now-dead operating system – and it seems that a rather annoying bug crept into the update.

A number of users have complained on the Reddit and Microsoft support forums that the latest Windows 7 update, KB4534310, introduces a bug that replaces the existing wallpaper with a black screen.

It seems that users will be able to use the wallpaper again, but the full black background will return after a reboot of the PC. Very annoying.

It is assumed that this error is due to the fact that Microsoft’s activation server thinks that the Windows 7 device is not activated or is using an illegal product key. Previously, under Windows 7, it was not possible to change the desktop background before activating it.

Most importantly…

It is likely that the problem occurred just after you installed a third-party application that you were using to change the user interface or desktop. If this is the case, you will need to uninstall the program first. This will prevent the application from controlling your display settings. However, this step will not completely solve the problem. What it will do is simply prevent the problem from happening again.

To learn how to remove the black background from Windows 7 and completely solve the problem, follow the instructions below.

Recovering the Custom Wallpaper in Windows 7

Although not all Windows 7s get a bug fix, there are steps you can take to prevent wallpaper from disappearing.

To alleviate this known and recently recognized problem, Microsoft recommends one of the following measures:

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  • Set your custom image to an option other than stretch, such as fill, trim, tile, or center; or
  • Choose a custom background image that matches the resolution of your desktop.

Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise, and Windows 7 Ultimate users will continue to receive updates when they sign up for Microsoft’s Windows Extended Security Updates program, which is available through a volume license.

According to Redmond, while the ESU does not and will not provide non-security related updates, new features or user-requested design changes, it appears that fixes will still be introduced if the issues are considered fixable.

Do not uninstall the buggy update.

We do not recommend uninstalling buggy update KB4534310. This update contains important security fixes for Windows 7, and it is better to work around this bug than to forego the important security fixes.

As long as you avoid the “stretch” option, you will not encounter the error with the black background. Stretching is bad for image quality anyway.

On Windows 7, black wallpaper can also be the result of using a “non-real” copy of Windows 7.

If Windows 7 cannot be activated with Microsoft, Windows often converts the desktop background to a blank black image. In this situation, the message “This copy of Windows is not authentic” also appears on the black desktop background in the lower right corner of the screen above the taskbar notification area.

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