We Couldn't Activate Windows POP-UP Scam

Also Known As: "We Couldn't Activate Windows" virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

We Couldn't Activate Windows removal instructions 

What is We Couldn't Activate Windows?

Typically, users receive the "We Couldn't Activate Windows" fake error message when they visit an untrustworthy (deceptive) website. In most cases, users do not visit these websites willingly - potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) or clicked intrusive ads force redirects to them. Potentially unwanted applications of this type are usually installed without users' consent, cause redirects, gather data, and deliver ads. Some examples of other similar scams are Your System Data Has Been Compromized, Your Computer Is Permanently Blocked, and Windows Support Alert.

We Couldn't Activate Windows scam

The pop-up "We Couldn't Activate Windows" message states that the operating system has failed and could not be activated, and that users should contact Microsoft support via the telephone number [+1-844-458-6668] provided using error code "0xc004f014" as a reference. It also states that the system has detected 'unusual activity' that might harm data stored on the computer and track financial activities. These statements are false and have nothing to do with Microsoft or its support services. These threats are attempts to trick users into paying for services or products that will supposedly fix the problems. Cyber criminals are behind the "We Couldn't Activate Windows" fake support message and we strongly recommend that you ignore all requests made by them. To remove this message, simply close the website, and it should be gone. If you cannot close it, a script might be preventing the closing of opened tabs and windows. In this case, use the Task Manager to force quit the entire browser, or simply restart the computer. The next time you open the browser, do not restore the previous session, since this will reopen identical, malicious web pages that produce the "We Couldn't Activate Windows" message.

Potentially unwanted applications that lead users to websites that trigger fake messages (such as "We Couldn't Activate Windows") also collect user-system information (geo-locations, keystrokes, IP addresses, URLs of visited websites, search queries, etc.). Developers use these details to generate revenue by sharing them with third parties (potentially cyber criminals). There is a high probability that the gathered data will include personal or sensitive information. Therefore, users can encounter privacy issues or even identity theft. Another downside of PUAs is the ads they deliver. They are often coupons, banners, surveys, pop-ups, and so on, and displayed using tools that enable placement of third party graphical content on any site and conceal underlying content. Once clicked, these ads redirect to untrustworthy/potentially malicious websites or run scripts designed to download/install potentially unwanted applications. You are advised to uninstall all unwanted apps immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name "We Couldn't Activate Windows" virus
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Related Domains girlsimages[.]online
Serving IP Address (girlsimages[.]online) 104.27.160.142
Symptoms Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of one's computer.
Distribution methods Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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Many fake messages (support alert, virus, errors, and so on) are very similar to "We Couldn't Activate Windows". In most cases, they state that the system is infected by a virus infection, the computer is blocked, the user's data is in danger, etc. These messages are simply used to trick users into paying for software they do not need. Potentially unwanted applications are all very similar. They generate revenue for their developers by collecting and sharing data, delivering intrusive ads, and causing unwanted redirects. PUAs are generally promoted as 'useful apps', but few provide the functionality promised.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

PUAs are often installed by users inadvertently without their knowledge - through intrusive advertisements that they click or when software developers use a deceptive marketing method called bundling. Bundling is stealth installation of PUAs with regular third party software. Software developers avoid disclosing information about bundled applications properly and hide them in "Advanced", "Custom" and other options/settings of the installation processes. Careless behaviour such as skipping installation steps and clicking intrusive (untrustworthy) advertisements usually results in unintentional software installations.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

Do not download software from untrustworthy/unofficial sources. Avoid using torrents and third party software downloaders. We strongly recommend that you use direct links, official and trustworthy websites. Do not skip installation steps without checking the "Custom", "Advanced" and other similar settings or options. Deselect all offers to install additional software, and only then proceed to the next step or complete the installation. Bear in mind that not all advertisements are legitimate, especially intrusive ones. Cyber criminals invest many resources in ads design and it can be difficult to determine which are legitimate. Rogue ads usually redirect to untrustworthy websites such as gambling, pornography, adult dating, and so on. If you encounter them, check the list of installed applications on your browser and remove any unwanted/unknown extensions, plug-ins, and add-ons immediately. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate them .

Text presented in "We Couldn't Activate Windows" pop-up:

We couldn't activate Windows
Try activating Windows again or contact Microsoft support and reference the error code. You can go to Settings for more information.
Toll Free: +1-844-458-6668
Error Code: 0xc004f014

The appearance of "We Couldn't Activate Windows" pop-up (GIF):

We Couldn't Activate Windows scam gif

Second pop-up of "We Couldn't Activate Windows" scam:

second WCAW1

Text presented within this pop-up:

Windows Support Alert
Your system detected some unusual activity.
It might harm your computer data and track your financial activities.
Please report this activity to +1-844-458-6668

Another variant of "We Couldn't Activate Windows" pop-up scam:

We Couldn't Activate Windows pop-up scam (second variant)

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Malwarebytes is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
▼ DOWNLOAD Malwarebytes By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.

Quick menu:

Removal of potentially unwanted applications:

Windows 7 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 7

Click Start (Windows Logo at the bottom left corner of your desktop), choose Control Panel. Locate Programs and click Uninstall a program.

Windows XP users:

Accessing Add or Remove Programs in Windows XP

Click Start, choose Settings and click Control Panel. Locate and click Add or Remove Programs.

Windows 10 and Windows 8 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 8

Right-click in the lower left corner of the screen, in the Quick Access Menu select Control Panel. In the opened window choose Programs and Features.

Mac OSX users:

Uninstall app in OSX (Mac)

Click Finder, in the opened screen select Applications. Drag the app from the Applications folder to the Trash (located in your Dock), then right click the Trash icon and select Empty Trash.

We Couldn't Activate Windows adware uninstall via Control Panel

In the uninstall programs window, look for any suspicious/recently-installed applications, select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".

After uninstalling the potentially unwanted application, scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components or possible malware infections. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.

Remove rogue extensions from Internet browsers:

Video showing how to remove potentially unwanted browser add-ons:

Internet Explorer logoRemove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:

Removing rogue extensions from Internet Explorer step 1

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Manage Add-ons". Look for any recently-installed suspicious browser extensions, select these entries and click "Remove".

Removing rogue extensions from Internet Explorer step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the "we couldn't activate windows" virus, reset your Internet Explorer settings to default.

Windows XP users: Click Start, click Run, in the opened window type inetcpl.cpl In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows XP

Windows Vista and Windows 7 users: Click the Windows logo, in the start search box type inetcpl.cpl and click enter. In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 7

Windows 8 users: Open Internet Explorer and click the gear icon. Select Internet Options.

Reseting Internet Explorer settings to default in Windows 8 - accessing

In the opened window, select the Advanced tab.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - Internet options advanced tab

Click the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - click the Reset button in the Internet options advanced tab

Confirm that you wish to reset Internet Explorer settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - confirm settings reset to default by clicking the reset button

Google Chrome logoRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Removing rogue extensions from Google Chrome step 1

Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "More tools" and click "Extensions". Locate all recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons and remove them.

Removing rogue extensions from Google Chrome step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the "we couldn't activate windows" virus, reset your Google Chrome browser settings. Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome) and select Settings. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen. Click the Advanced… link.

Google Chrome settings reset step 1

After scrolling to the bottom of the screen, click the Reset (Restore settings to their original defaults) button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 2

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Google Chrome settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 3

Mozilla Firefox logoRemove malicious plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:

Removing rogue extensions from Mozilla Firefox step 1

Click the Firefox menu firefox menu icon (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons". Click on "Extensions", in the opened window, remove all recently-installed suspicious browser plug-ins.

Removing rogue extensions from Mozilla Firefox step 2

Optional method:

Computer users who have problems with "we couldn't activate windows" virus removal can reset their Mozilla Firefox settings.

Open Mozilla Firefox, at the top right corner of the main window, click the Firefox menu, firefox menu icon in the opened menu, click Help.

Accessing settings (Reset Firefox to default settings step 1)

Select Troubleshooting Information.

Accessing Troubleshooting Information (Reset Firefox to default settings step 2)

In the opened window, click the Refresh Firefox button.

Clicking on Refresh Firefox button (Reset Firefox to default settings step 3)

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.

Confirm your want to reset Firefox settings to default (Reset Firefox to default settings step 4)

safari browser logoRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

removing adware from safari step 1 - accessing preferences

Make sure your Safari browser is active, click Safari menu, and select Preferences....

removing adware from safari step 2 - removing extensions

In the opened window click Extensions, locate any recently installed suspicious extension, select it and click Uninstall.

Optional method:

Make sure your Safari browser is active and click on Safari menu. From the drop down menu select Clear History and Website Data...

resetting safari step 1

In the opened window select all history and click the Clear History button.

resetting safari step 2

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) logoRemove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge:

Removing adware from Microsoft Edge step 1

Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the upper-right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Extensions". Locate all recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons and click "Remove" below their names.

Removing adware from Microsoft Edge step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the "we couldn't activate windows" virus, reset your Microsoft Edge browser settings. Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge) and select Settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 1

In the opened settings menu select Reset settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 2

Select Restore settings to their default values. In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Microsoft Edge settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 3

  • If this did not help, follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset the Microsoft Edge browser.

Summary:

declining installation of adware while downloading free software sampleCommonly, adware or potentially unwanted applications infiltrate Internet browsers through free software downloads. Note that the safest source for downloading free software is via developers' websites only. To avoid installation of adware, be very attentive when downloading and installing free software. When installing previously-downloaded free programs, choose the custom or advanced installation options – this step will reveal any potentially unwanted applications listed for installation together with your chosen free program.

Removal assistance:
If you are experiencing problems while trying to remove "we couldn't activate windows" virus from your computer, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Removal Instructions in other languages
Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
We Couldn't Activate Windows virus QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of "We Couldn't Activate Windows" virus on your mobile device.
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