The Software Protection Service, part 2

Good morning.  I ran into an interesting issue this morning that I wanted to share.  I have seen this particular problem on several occasions, but a Google search comes up empty.  So I had a customer this morning that was seeing activation issues in 2012 R2.  More specifically, he was unable to make any changes with slmgr.vbs.  In case you were not aware, slmgr.vbs is the command line tool to enter/remove product keys and get information about activation status.

I started troubleshooting this by running the MGADiag (Microsoft Genuine Advantage Diagnostic) tool*.  I was specifically looking for this line: OEMID and OEMTableID Consistent: yes.  This indicates that the server can use an OEM SLP key.  So that ruled out that as a possible issue.

I then wanted to find out why the Software Protection Service was reporting Windows is not activated.  I ran the command: slmgr /dlv.  This command will display licensing information with full verbosity.  The command threw an error though.
slmgr-dlv-error

When running slue.exe 0x2a 0x8007041D, I received the following message:
slmgr-dlv-error-extended

So it appears that the Software Protection Service is not starting.  I confirmed this in the System Event log.
spp-not-starting

Now the big question.  Why is the Software Protection Service not starting?  To determine this I ran a filter on the event viewer to only show me event ID 7000 errors.  I then scrolled to the first event.  In this case the event was first recorded on 12/5/2016.  My next stop was Programs and Features.  It was no surprise that installed on the same day the problem started was SEP (Symantec Endpoint Protection).  I say this as I have seen SEP cause a multitude of issues on server operating systems.  I point out SEP because it is the most common.  I have also seen numerous other security software packages cause problems.  In our case we removed SEP and rebooted.  After the reboot Windows is now reporting that it is activated.

I hope this post has been informative for you.  If you have anything to add or you see any errors please post in the comments below.

 

*I ran into a really good blog article after working on this issue.  It turns out the MGADiag tool is only designed for Windows 7/2008R2.  While it will run on higher version of OSes, there is now a built-in tool.  Thanks to John D over at johndstech.com for posting this.

 

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