Q: I have a Windows 7 laptop from Best Buy that frequently shows the message “This computer is not running genuine Windows.” What is causing this, and how can I eliminate it?

John Mack, Colorado Springs, Colo.


A: Some Microsoft software updates examine a PC’s copy of Windows to determine if it’s legally purchased or illegally copied. But this examination of Windows doesn’t always work properly. As a result, some legitimate copies are flagged as illegal, and that triggers the repetitive “not running genuine Windows,” message.

You shouldn’t ignore the warning, even if it’s wrong, because eventually it will appear on your screen all the time. After that, the screen’s background color will periodically switch to black.

But there’s an easy way to delete the warning. By using the command “REARM,” you can reset the “SLMGR” program that manages your Windows software license (and thus is the source of the warning.) This returns your PC to the state it was in before the warning appeared.

This solution helps PC owners with a legitimate copy of Windows, but for those with an illegal copy it only buys a little time. The warning, and its consequences, will reappear each time a new update tests the legality of a PC’s copy of Windows.

Go to Start and use the search box to find “cmd” (without the quotation marks.) In the search results, right-click “cmd.exe,” and in the resulting menu click “Run as administrator.” You will get a black screen with a line of text that begins with “C:\Windows”; at the end of this line is an arrow pointing right. Immediately after the arrow, type “SLMGR -REARM” (don’t use the quotation marks, and be sure to leave a blank space before the hyphen.) Click the Enter key, and you will get a screen prompt to restart your PC so that the change will take effect. Click OK.


Q: I keep getting a message to install the important update KB3205972 on my Windows 7 PC. But the update has failed to install 10 times, and I’m unable to remove it from the list of pending updates. What is this update, and what can I do to install it?

Jon Belisle, Maplewood


A: The update is designed to fix a flaw in the free Microsoft Security Essentials program. The flaw was created by an error in a previous update.

Because this latest update hasn’t been a problem for others, I suspect that there’s something wrong with the Windows Update program on your PC. Try running the Windows troubleshooting software that finds and fixes problems with the update program (see tinyurl.com/goaqofk).


Q: I’m having my new AOL e-mail forwarded to a Gmail account. Now I’d like to forward my AOL folders, which contain years of e-mails, and set up new Gmail folders. How can I do that?

Marlene Guynes, Toledo, Ohio


A: You can simultaneously transfer your e-mail messages, folders and contacts from AOL to Gmail (see tinyurl.com/gq9yv7d). To set up new Gmail folders (they’re called “labels,” but they work the same way), see tinyurl.com/hzpfkkk.


E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander@gmail.com. Include name, city and telephone number.