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I have a dual boot setup (Ubuntu-Linux and Windows-7 Pro 64-bit) on my laptop. I mostly do my work in Ubuntu, but every once in a while I have to use Windows. A few days ago, I booted into Windows after quite some time, and I checked for updates and there were a lot of new updates (more than 2GB!). To finish the update process I had to reboot and after that a lot of problems showed up!

I can't run many basic programs, such as IE and sidebar! The errors are missing DLLs, like the following screenshots:

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I have compared my 'System32' folder with another healthy installation of Windows-7 (32-bit), and I confirm that there are several missing DLLs (like: api-ms-win-downlevel-advapi32-l1-1-0.dll, api-ms-win-downlevel-ole32-l1-1-0.dll, api-ms-win-downlevel-user32-l1-1-0.dll, api-ms-win-downlevel-shell32-l1-1-0.dll, ...). I haven't checked all the DLLs, so I don't know how many other DLLs are also missing.

I've been searching in the web for the past three days trying to figure out a solution. It seems that a lot of other people have faced the same problem, but unfortunately I didn't find any working solution. The most suggested solution was to run a System File Checker (SFC) scan (sfc /scannow), which I did and SFC reports that there are some corrupted system-files but it is unable to repair!

In a Microsoft KB article I read that in this situation, one must try to manually repair the corrupted files based on the scan output log (CBS.log). When searching for how to do this, I found this answer, which says that such a large amount of corrupt system-files can only be fixed using an "Inplace Upgrade" or "Repair Installation".

One concern is that my Windows-7 is an OEM-installation which came pre-installed with my laptop. I don't know that an "Inplace Upgrade" or "Repair Installation" will break my genuine Windows activation status or not?!

  1. So, does anyone know about a solution to this problem? Either using a trusted tool, or guiding me to do the repair manually based on the SFC output log (CBS.log)?

  2. If not, can any one provide feedback on my concern about performing an "Inplace Upgrade" or "Repair Installation" on an OEM-installed Windows-7?

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I experienced the same problems after being away and my system installed some Windows updates (which I think caused the issue).

To solve the problem, I went to another 64 bit Windows 7 computer and just copied the api-ms-windows-downlevel-*.dll files from /Windows/System32 to my own /Windows/System32 directory. (You probably have to do it in Safe Mode, or else the files are in use.)

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  • This indeed was the problem. All DLLs like api-ms-win-downlevel-xxxx.dll were missing, which are a total of 9 DLLs. I copied them from another fine-working Windows-7 (64-bit) and pasted them in my C:\Windows\system32 folder, and everything is OK now! Jan 15, 2015 at 7:24
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Probably your best bet would be to back up all your important files, then run your laptop's recovery partition to repair your operating system. Since it is an OEM image, it will format your hard drive but it will be properly activated and genuine.

If you choose the in-place upgrade, then you must use the product key on you laptop's product key sticker to perform the installation, then follow the instructions to reactivate by phone (be prepared to key in a long string of numbers to the phone, then listen for the long string of numbers to activate the operating system)

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    I do have the recovery disc for my laptop. I have performed the recovery a long time before, and as you said it will wipe out all of my data and programs back to the factory state! This will fix the Windows problem, but then I have to spend a LOT of time restoring everything back! This is clearly not an option for me! Jan 2, 2015 at 6:26
  • So, you are confirming my concern about the windows activation, right? If you are correct, then the "repair installation" is not an option either! Because Microsoft has no support in my country and if I loose my genuine activation, it is highly unlikely that I will be able to activate it again (using phone, or internet)! Jan 2, 2015 at 6:30
  • Repairing or reinstalling Windows is a valid option in cases such as these, thought it's not an ideal one by any means. If you perform an in-place upgrade using an OEM installation CD, Windows 7 would remain properly activated as you would use your current OEM product key. You cannot use a retail installation CD to perform an in-place upgrade on an OEM install of Windows (or vice versa). Most OEMs (Dell, HP, etc) include a "repair" option in their recovery environment that performs an in-place upgrade from the recovery partition. Windows 10 has these recovery options built-in to the OS.
    – Thomas
    Aug 10, 2017 at 15:52

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