Windows 7 back in black as holdouts report wallpaper-stripping shenanigans

Suitable attire, seeing that it's dead

150 Reg comments Got Tips?

Microsoft has given Windows 7 users a parting gift with its last update as some holdouts are reporting existing desktop wallpaper being replaced by a sombre black screen – presumably in mourning for the veteran OS.

Others have also called out problems on Windows 10, but it is the venerable (and potentially vulnerable) 7 that is generating the most heat.

The issue, which is causing debate on the likes of Reddit, appears to have kicked off following last week's monthly roll-up, KB4534310 or the security-only update KB4534314, the last for those on Windows 7 and not enrolled in the Extended Security Update (ESU) programme.

The problem seems to afflict those with stretched wallpaper and, more worryingly, appears to have also hit organisations with "wallpaper set by group" policy. Users aren't keen on change, and we can imagine a good few BOFHs receiving calls from customers distressed by the disappearance of the usual company logo and the arrival of something a lot darker, almost... funeral-like.

The Register has contacted Microsoft to find out if this is a known issue. The company did warn users not on ESU, domain joined or kiosk versions of Windows 7 to expect to see an out-of-support nag screen, but switching off a beloved kitten or puppy backdrop is perhaps a step too far.

Users have performed their own sleuthing and discovered that wallpapers pop back to life if the offending patch is removed. This is unfortunate, since there are some important fixes in there that really should be installed. Others have suggested not using the stretch option (and so manually ensuring images fit) or firing up the good old Aero theme.

A Register reader got in touch to tell us the problem had hit computers at his organisation, where wallpaper is enforced by policy. Others have donned the tinfoil conspiracy hats, muttering that the borkage is part of a dastardly Redmondian scheme to rip the beloved OS from their hands. Right.

To complicate things further, not all stretched images are affected. However, if your screen has suddenly turned black, we'd suggest trying out some different image sizes before throwing in the towel.

We will update this story if Microsoft responds. ®

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