That Windows 7 Wallpaper Bug Microsoft introduced? Buy ESU to get it fixed

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 26, 2020
Updated • Jan 27, 2020
Windows, Windows 7

Microsoft released a final cumulative update for the company's Windows 7 operating system on the January 2020 Patch Day before support ended officially.

KB4534310 fixes several security issues on machines running Windows 7 including one that is rated critical.

Reports came in after the release of the update that the wallpaper on patched Windows 7 devices displayed as black.

Microsoft acknowledged the issue recently on the official KB4534310 support page stating:

After installing KB4534310, your desktop wallpaper might display as black when set to Stretch.

A workaround is provided by Microsoft. According to the information presented, the wallpaper is displayed as black only if the display mode is set to stretch.

Microsoft suggests that affected users either use a different view mode, e.g. fill, fit, or center, or select a wallpaper that matches the resolution of the display.

To mitigate the issue, you can do one of the following:

Set your custom image to an option other than Stretch, such as Fill, Fit, Tile, or Center.

Choose a custom wallpaper that matches the resolution of your desktop.

Administrators and users should not have any trouble using the workaround to resolve the black wallpaper issue. One option is to use an image editor to stretch the wallpaper to the native resolution of the device and use that edited image as the desktop background going forward.

Update: Microsoft appears to have had a change of heart. The workaround will be made available to all Windows 7 systems regardless of whether ESU is active or not:

We are working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release, which will be released to all customers running Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.


A patch is being worked on according to Microsoft, but it will only be made available to Extended Security Updates subscribers.

We are working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release for organizations who have purchased Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU).

Extended Security Updates are only available for Enterprise and business customers.

Microsoft's stance is quite rigorous in regards to the patch; while support for Windows 7 ended officially on January 14, 2020, it was Microsoft's own patch that caused the issue in first place.

It would not cost Microsoft an arm and leg to release the patch for all Windows 7 devices and not exclusively for Extended Security Updates subscribers considering that the patch is developed anyway for ESU devices already.

The issue may not be critical but many customers would have probably preferred if Microsoft would have ended support without the unpatched issue.

Now You: What is your take on this? (via Ask Woody)

That Windows 7 Wallpaper Bug Microsoft introduced? Buy ESU to get it fixed
Article Name
That Windows 7 Wallpaper Bug Microsoft introduced? Buy ESU to get it fixed
Windows 7 users who experience a black wallpaper issue after installing the final patch for the system will only get it fixed if they are subscribed to ESU.
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  1. Matt Shaw said on February 8, 2020 at 9:58 pm

    So you have install an update to repair an update

    When did this become rational behaviour ?

    With the massive resources Microsoft have, I cant believe such a basic corruption of a core aspect of Windows useability wasnt screened for beforethe original update was released

    I have a very fast Windows 7 setup, that has not given me a problem for 3 years. I have very effective rollback software in case Windows registry is infected

    Upgrading for upgrades sake is something I am happy to avoid until my computers stop working. I have been using my Windows computers for over 30 years, and using commonsense computer security practice, have never needed to upgrade the OS with dodgy Microsoft updates

    I will avoid Windows 10 for as long as possible. Like others here, I am not happy having my current applications being compromised and broken by the endless MS updates

    Microsoft can keep its hands off my computer. From day 1, I stopped automatic updates, and have no regrets at all

  2. EP said on February 8, 2020 at 1:45 am

    Microsoft has just released the KB4539602 update Friday Feb. 7, which fixes the wallpaper bug:

    this can be installed on any Win7 system, regardless of whether ESUs were purchased or not

    recent articles on this by Born and woody on these sites:

  3. The_Punisher said on January 30, 2020 at 10:22 am

    To all the people who recommend getting Windows 10:

    How exactly do you feel comfortable recommending a product of a company that has dedicated itself in the past 5 years to pulling stunts like this?

  4. Peterc said on January 27, 2020 at 7:43 pm

    I have a rather large collection of favorite wallpapers that includes both 16:9 and 16:10 aspect-ratio pictures. I run the same collection in a slideshow on three laptops, two of which have 16:9 displays and one of which has a 16:10 display, and I *do* use stretching to fudge the difference and provide complete screen coverage. (For now, at least, I don’t really care enough about perfect proportions to separate the 16:9s from the 16:10s, let alone create cropped versions of the 16:9s for the 16:10 computer and of the 16:10s for the 16:9 computers. The stretched wallpapers — even photos — are close enough for rock ‘n’ roll.)

    Anyway, I don’t go to the desktop all that often, but when I do, my wallpapers give me a little aesthetic break from whatever I’m doing. (I even use a little utility called Iconoid that I’ve set to hide desktop icons until I click on the desktop, making the aesthetic break that much more complete.) It would *definitely* annoy me a *little* to have to put up with letterboxing and pillarboxing, and a *lot* to have an empty, black desktop.

    Thankfully, I don’t have to put up with that because I’ve only been applying security-only updates to my Windows 7 system since January 2017 and I never installed this buggy monthly rollup. Belarc Advisor is giving me a clean bill of health, so the security-only updates from this last free Patch Tuesday apparently plugged the vulnerability addressed by the rollup. (Well … unless Belarc Advisor is failing to detect a true-positive, which I rather doubt.)

    So, wouldn’t uninstalling KB4534310 and installing the January 2020 security-only updates instead be another solution? But since Microsoft will apparently be releasing a post-end-of-life fix for *all* Windows 7 users, I guess the question is probably moot … unless Microsoft screws up the fix as well. Keep your fingers crossed, people!

  5. EP said on January 27, 2020 at 5:35 pm

    hi Martin

    read the following:

    looks like Microsoft made a U-turn and plans to release an upcoming fix to the wallpaper problem to ALL Win7 users whether they bought ESUs or not.

  6. DirCompUser said on January 27, 2020 at 3:12 pm

    Cue for an important article by ghacks?

    There are one or two comments here alleging “underhand” tactics by MS (and yes imo their software licences are mainly self-exonerating) but how for example do you know which if any Linux distribution is (relatively) “safe”? By which I mean, aside from unknown/unintentional security issues affecting e.g. the kernel generally, what assurance do you have for instance that data isn’t being maliciously leached?

    If you look at Distrowatch there are 100 distributions listed (including some BSDs etc) and apart from the groupings which have a commercial side – basically RHEL -vs- Ubuntu and their respective free derivatives or upstream origins (like Red Hat and Debian) – most are small community efforts which for all I know have been assembled by enthusiasts in their back bedrooms. For instance did I see some Zorin users complaining about statistics being sent back without a clear heads-up on disabling reporting?
    Distrowatch itself acknowledges the potential confusion caused by so many Linux flavours and has this page:

    That’s not to denigrate smaller excellent projects like MXLinux (highly popular but it appears small developer base numbers), but the question remains.

    In the UK I looked around to see if any government or banking industry guidance exists on so-called secure operating systems for consumers and the nearest thing that came up was hardening advice for one Linux distribution which assumes the premise of a system that is fundamentally not purposely compromised to begin with:

    The only other links that came up in my search were basically about sysadmin / developer auditing tools for payments systems using Linux e.g.

    and operating system / Linux distribution specific auditing:

    @Ghacks-jack – I briefly tested on a 5yo Sony Vaio Xubuntu which I assume is the Ubuntu Xfce version you tried and was favourably impressed, the first obviously noticeable thing was the laptop fan was off when inactive after bootup, unlike when running its shipped Windows 7 Home Premium x64; and when inactive RAM usage was iirc a frugal-enough 400-450MB. The downside is I think the next long term support issue is for x64 not i386.

    1. The_Punisher said on January 30, 2020 at 10:29 am


      TL;DR – No, there’s no such thing as perfect security. Yes, there’s a very VERY weak possibility that your distro devs are purposely stealing your data and ignoring important patches. No, it’s not something to worry about, when the only alternatives are commercial vendors like Microsoft, Apple and Google.

      To make an analogy – if you were to go to a soup kitchen, would you worry that the staff spit on your food? No, because soup kitchen staff are volunteers who do it out of a sense of care for their customers. But on the other hand, if you went to a McDonald’s…

    2. Ghacks-jack said on January 29, 2020 at 6:22 am

      I forgot to mention GalliumOS is built on top of Xubuntu.

    3. Ghacks-jack said on January 29, 2020 at 6:18 am

      @DirCompUser – I installed GalliumOS on an Acer cb311 chromebook (2GB RAM; 16GB HD; circa 2015). Gallium was designed to convert chromebooks from ChromeOS. I didn’t even see Gallium listed on distrowatch. It’s fast and minimalist. I had to learn how to install custom firmware by Mrchromebox. Anyway, it works flawlessly on this old laptop. Loads/shuts-down in a snap. Here’s its wiki:

      If you have or obtain an old chromebook then I’d recommend trying Gallium (it will likely require removing the back cover so you may install the firmware and OS).

      Appreciate your other links – I’ll check them out.

  7. Jody Thornton said on January 27, 2020 at 11:56 am

    Very interesting that Moonchild is perfectly OK with continued use of Pale Moon on Windows 7, which is now EOL, but they couldn’t be steadfast enough of ridding of Windows XP support back in 2015.

    Now, I’m fine with the mass-jettison of XP, but it’s either one way or the other. Me thinks, since the Pale Moon crew runs Windows 7, well then that makes it OK, but since XP is just all the other guys, well too bad.

    I’m over on Windows 8 anyway, and again I’m not an XP or Windows 7 defender, but flip-flopping on an issue just bugs me.

    1. Cassette said on January 27, 2020 at 1:46 pm

      When you don’t know the reasons, it would seem that way.

      Support for Pale Moon on XP continued officially for months after Windows XP support was dropped by Microsoft. After that it continued to be supported until 2016 on the Atom build. Windows 7 support was dropped just this month by Microsoft so your criticism of flip-flopping is premature to say the least.

      1. Jody Thornton said on January 27, 2020 at 2:01 pm

        Um @Cassette – notice that I said Pale Moon support for XP ran until 2015, and we both know that April 2014 was that deadline for Microsoft. So I’m WELL AWARE that they supported it for longer.

        However, they are vehement against running it on XP. Don’t kid yourself, or use timeline arguments to belittle my argument. All your doing is saying “Ha, that will show him”, which just makes you look childish.

        As for the stability and security arguments you link me to, which again I’m aware of , well it seems Roytam1 at MSFN is able to make XP compatible again, and even backport updates to make Pale Moon work. So don’t feed me that crap.

        It really boils down to – we like Windows 7, so in this case it’s OK. All of the other stuff is just to make their decision look legitimate. And you know that full well. You just want to be argumentative – that’s all.

      2. Cassette said on January 27, 2020 at 10:04 pm

        Your timeline is wrong. The last Pale Moon version to support Windows XP is 26.5 which came out in September of 2016. That’s more than two years after Windows XP was EOL. Considering that you think that pointing out facts that counter your claims is somehow childish, this seems to be more of an issue with you than them.

    2. Anonymous said on January 27, 2020 at 1:12 pm

      It’s probably due to large architectural differences between XP and 7.

  8. Anonymous said on January 27, 2020 at 11:26 am

    I am not suprised anymore, did they say some days ago that they now want to release malware to hijack browsers and force Bing?
    It could be worse, they could get access to our files and demand bitcoin to unlock them or to update to windows 10.

  9. Anonymous said on January 27, 2020 at 9:22 am

    Latest KB4534310 :
    “We are working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release,
    which will be released to all customers running Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.”

    Yes. we can patch without ESU.

    1. AGG said on January 27, 2020 at 11:31 am

      You don’t get it. What they wanted was to scare non tech people to think their computer is broken (scary black desktop) and to update to their latest crap. They don’t work, they have the fix already… they just wait to get more victims to update and then they will provide the update. Typical Microcrap.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 27, 2020 at 9:56 am

      Good news. Thank You!

  10. ilev said on January 27, 2020 at 9:16 am

    After the backlash Microsoft has a second though :

    “We are working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release, which will be released to all customers running Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.”

  11. Anonymous said on January 27, 2020 at 8:56 am

    We are working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release, which will be released to all customers running Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.

  12. ULBoom said on January 27, 2020 at 2:05 am

    Wow, taking Woody’s Headline and slightly rewording it is cheesy, not gHacks typical style at all. In fact, what was written here was not a recommendation to buy ESU, turning the article into clickbait. ESU’s not what Woody or Patch Lady recommend for average users either.

    If the rest of what Woody wrote was perused, along with links, many articles similar to this would have been found, they’ve been posting here and there for almost two weeks:

    Not learning much around here anymore…

  13. Ghacks-jack said on January 27, 2020 at 2:01 am

    I used some online tutorials – including several by Ghacks – and defected from Win7 to Linux. I’d encourage anyone to do so — sooner than later.

    Here’s my defection experience:

    As a distro, I chose a variant of Xbuntu. It uses a light desktop environment (DE), which is called Xfce. Side-note: Xfce is light with respect to not having a lot of extras and resource-intensive programs, but it still seems to use a lot or RAM. My base RAM use without opening any apps is between 450MB and 500MB–that’s the same as some report with Mint/Cinnamon. One of the authors at Ghacks noted this in a DE comparison post from a couple of years ago, too.

    Anyway, installing/removing applications is easy using the terminal or software center. I just look-up the commands that are necessary. I had planned the transition over a year ago and got used to using Thunderbird (email) and LibreOffice (spreadsheet, word processor, etc.).

    It’s astonishing how fast my old laptop now operates – starting up and closing down happens in about 2-3 seconds, max, on a laptop with 2GB ram.

    I plan to install Linux Mint with Cinnamon DE on my other old Lenovo T-series laptop, which has more RAM and storage space (4GB and 160GB, respectively).

  14. ddk said on January 26, 2020 at 11:32 pm

    Terrible “dick” move on their part.
    Still trying to force Win 10 upgrades…by hook or crook
    Recently wiped Win 10 Home from a newly bought computer
    Installed LTSC…difference is astounding. This is the 90 day eval version, can be “rearmed”
    extended to approx 9 months.

    Fedora recommends this method of upgrading and IMO is probably the best option for Win 10 overall. Given their track record as a rolling release OS.

  15. Jeff said on January 26, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    There’s that classic abusive monopoly called Microsoft that we all love (or love/live to hate).

  16. Sophie said on January 26, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    Well….in my VM, is my retail box of Win7 from 2009 that I’ve not even allowed SP1 on…never mind KB4534310.

    It’s fast, works like a dream, and has never had a single update. Not one.

    So yes….my wallpaper stretch is looking good thanks, Microsoft. Y’aint touching it, either.

  17. Martin P. said on January 26, 2020 at 8:11 pm


    « We f**k your desktop and leave you the f**k in the dark… »

  18. Anonymous said on January 26, 2020 at 8:06 pm

    Microsoft can suck it. No need to buy. Bypass already works.

  19. James said on January 26, 2020 at 8:05 pm

    This is the software equivalent to farting on a crowded elevator right as it reaches your floor. WTF Microsoft?

  20. Addy T. said on January 26, 2020 at 7:03 pm

    This is why I never install any Windows updates (excluding Service Packs). Writing this comment from my safe, fast Windows 7 machine.

  21. Toxic said on January 26, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    i never set my wallpaper in windows settings, i use irfanview to do that way more control, and bypasses windows bug

  22. Tim said on January 26, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    This feels kind of like someone hurled a rock through my family room window, and then is expecting me to pay them to fix it.

  23. Yuliya said on January 26, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    I don’t worry too much. I’ll get this update since I use Simplix Update Pack instead of WU. Been doing it for years.
    Also I never use stretch for wallpapers. Fill seems to me the only reasonable choice.

  24. Anonymous said on January 26, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    Who the hell would want to use Stretch anyway?

    1. ULBoom said on January 27, 2020 at 2:19 am

      Duh! Smartest and most obvious observation yet!

    2. freddie said on January 26, 2020 at 6:33 pm

      Probably all the people who now have black screens. And why not exactly?

  25. 99 said on January 26, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    Bag of rice fallen over in China

    Beijing (ghacks) – In the southern Chinese city of Yingde in Guangdong province, a sack of rice fell over at noon. This was reported by the Chinese news agency Xinhuahacks. The cause is not yet known. People are said not to have been injured.

    +++ The Rice bag Drama +++

    Yulia-News (ru)
    Exclusive: sister of the rice bag speaks on

    The dirty business of Mozilla’s illegal rice bag stealers.


    That’s how the sack fell over.

    At first he just stood there like all others. But then it happened.
    ghack’s reporter Tom Havoc has reconstructed the amazing happenings in China.
    A 47 extensions log.

    1. Moderation said on January 29, 2020 at 10:54 am

      @Martin Could you moderate 99’s comment?

    2. Peterc said on January 27, 2020 at 7:57 pm

      @99: What kind of rice are we talking about here? I ask because I’ve been on an ultra-low-carb diet for a few months, and I would *kill* for a bag of really good rice right about now. It doesn’t even have to be pretty. ;-)

    3. Moderation needed said on January 27, 2020 at 4:20 pm

      @Martin, Could you moderate 99’s comment? (not article related comment – it’s personal attack)

      1. 99 said on January 27, 2020 at 7:42 pm

        Skandalusia Morning News

        A sharp-eyed ghacks reader who eats his daily carrots does instantly ferret out, in his offhand, weaselly ferret-like manner, an unknown personal attack motif against unknown persons lurking in a handful of spilled rice grains.

        This outbreak of “Moderation needed” has been induced by an anonymous notorious insistence upon the “Rule of Mimimi” which occurs immediately afterwards in the same opening stanzas:

        (not article related comment – it’s personal attack)

        It is clearly evident to anyone who has ever been lost in ghacks comment sections, that this shameless allegations is nutters because just it is, and we’ve dug up some really cool facts to support our theory:

        ***Censoring these comments is a ruthless violation of anyone’s Right for Free Popcorn!***

    4. ULBoom said on January 27, 2020 at 2:17 am

      Today’s Snark Award.

      May be a good thing Sra. Pantalones hasn’t been posting lately.

    5. Moderation needed said on January 26, 2020 at 3:46 pm

      @Martin, Could you moderate 99’s comment?

    6. Yuliya said on January 26, 2020 at 2:15 pm

      Are you saying my sister’s a bag of rice? I mean I know I’m prettier, but she’s not that bad either, definitely does not resemble a bag of rice.

    7. Anonymous said on January 26, 2020 at 2:07 pm


      That’s the comment template now, is it? :-)

  26. George said on January 26, 2020 at 11:38 am

    Yep, it’d be quite the unceremonious and cheap farewell from Microsoft to leave Windows 7 -probably their most acclaimed OS- in a state like this. It’s not a major issue obviously but come on… it’d cost them nothing to provide the fix to all users.

  27. Kincaid said on January 26, 2020 at 11:24 am

    So let me get this straight: Microsoft introduced a new bug into their Windows 7 on the same day they ended support.

    Now they won’t fix it unless you give them more of your money.

    And they want people to trust them enough to install their questionable Windows 10 product – with all it’s “telemetry” code transmitting unverifiable content out of your system – with no written promise that it will remain free?


  28. Iron Heart said on January 26, 2020 at 10:57 am

    But then again, it doesn’t really matter to anyone! Those who have not bought ESU should stop Windows 7 at this stage, not because of the wallpaper bug, but due to the fact that no security patches will be released anymore.

    For private persons (who naturally have no access to the ESU program) that do not want to switch to Windows 10, I suggest to take a serious look at Windows 8.1 + Classic Shell. I repeat the information of another comment previously posted here in the following:

    Windows 8.1 can be made to operate exactly as Windows 7 does. Basically, you want to get rid of the following items:

    1) The Metro start screen.
    2) The active edges.
    3) The Metro apps that are the default apps for some things.

    So, in order to have a Windows 8.1 that works exactly like Windows 7, you need to do the following things, in this exact order:

    1) Buy a copy of Windows 8.1, then install it.
    2) Install all applications you need right after having installed Windows 8.1.
    3) You don’t want to boot into the Metro start screen, but into the Desktop. In order to achieve this, open the Desktop app. On the Windows 8.1 Desktop, right click on the taskbar and select “Properties”. Click on the “Navigation” tab. Under the “Start Screen” section, check “Go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in”.
    4) Close the Desktop app by pressing the Windows button on your keyboard. Now change the default programs to your preferred defaults using this method:
    5) Go into the Desktop again. Then install Classic Shell, then open it. Start button -> Settings -> check the “All Settings” checkbox and then go to the tab called “Windows 8 Settings” (or Windows 8.1 settings). Set “Disable active corners” to “All”.

    You can download Classic Shell from here:

    Done. Windows 8.1 now works like Windows 7. Windows 8.1 gets security updates until January 2023.

    1. Rog said on January 26, 2020 at 5:01 pm

      That’s what I have done. Windows 8.1 is actually a very solid OS. Windows 10, on the other hand… I’ve never had so many stability issues with any other OS. Chrome closing on its own, booting into black screen, crazy disk usage…

    2. kalmly said on January 26, 2020 at 4:48 pm

      I’ve had updates turned off on my Win7 machines for well over a year. So tired of Microsoft breaking applications. Will never go to 10. However, I appreciate your instructions here for getting Windows 8.1 to operate like Win 7. I intend to make use of them.

  29. Bobo said on January 26, 2020 at 10:55 am

    This happened to me on two computers that had 2 different programs that allow usage of custom themes. I guess the update replaced the files patched by those 2 programs, because it was no longer possible to change to any other theme than default aero. Uninstalling the patching programs fixed the problem. No biggie, those computers were planned for an upgrade to linux anyway, now I just will do it sooner. Still, quite a massive d**kmove by Microsoft, nothing like a big fat stinky d**kslap across the face as an incentive to install Windows 10, eh? Those tactics worked really well for that ugly guy with a small moustasche some 90 years ago, maybe it works for Microsoft too.. I wouldn’t bet on it though.

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