TLDR Windows 7 SP1 telemetry may have crippled Windows Defender, Windows Update, and requiring digital driver signing of new installations effective sometime in 2021. New installations have these issues including a false positive error message stating you're not running a genuine version of Windows. Background: I have an old PC from 2010. I have made about a dozen of HDD images over the years. There were some apps that only worked on Win 8.1 or higher. Before I did a clean install of Windows 8.1, I of course backed up my Windows 7 image. I added it back to my image collection. This was in early January 2021. The install of Win8 was relatively straightforward. There were some unknown driver issues I had encountered but manually installing them worked fine. I fined tuned the install to ensure I had all the drivers and updates I needed. My Win7 is OEM original with valid license key (it's a legitimate version), no KMS here. Anyway, I really didn't like Win8.1. I wiped my HDD and used the Win 7 image I created back at the end of December for Win 7 to reinstall Windows. I can confirm that installation was perfect and everything ran as it should. The last Defender scan date shows December 20, 2020 When I went to install my Printer Drivers for a new printer I bought in January, I started receiving unsigned driver errors and Windows wouldn't install them. I noticed Windows defender was blocked, and I couldn't run it. Ditto with Windows Update. I couldn't run Windows Defender. I was baffled. I tried to connect another external HD that I used before with Windows 7 and Windows gave me digital driver errors. I got frustrated. I went to install even older versions of my W7 images going back to 2013, same results. Defender and WU was blocked too. I then repeated the process but this time I disconnected from the internet by removing my RJ45 cable. I couldn't run WU and Defender. Digital signing issues remain — no change from above. I went and started from scratch. I wiped my HD and reinstalled Windows 7 OEM (without SP1). Everything was good. I remained disconnected from the internet. As soon as I installed SP1 that's when s**t started to happen (again). The same problems resurfaced. I thought I had a bad SP file, but no. I went to different backup sources. Same result. I went to MS's site and downloaded a fresh Window 7 SP file based on my Windows key. Again, the result is the same. I said, f**k it. I went and used my known good installation but now I am getting the following popup at random times saying there's a problem with my Windows key. I keep on reentering my Windows Key and I get the message I'm activated. Even when I get the popup message, I have gone to Windows PowerShell to verify. I'm activated but I still get the same message. To eliminate any hardware issues with my PC and mobo, I ran Win 8.1 again from a HDD image. W8.1 is fine. No issues at all. Cause: I am going to speculate that within Windows 7 SP1 telemetry, crippled Windows Defender, Windows Update, and requiring digital driver signing of new installations effective sometime in 2021. Whether you choose not to believe this is up to you. The fact remains, ALL my issues disappear when I install Windows 8.1.