Cannot start software protection service & activate Windows and Microsoft Office

This is a quick post to mention a fix for an annoying problem that cropped up today after Sage had been installing their applications on one of our servers.  It first appeared that Windows was not activated (even though I knew I had done this) and the Software Protection service was unable to start.  It was giving the error Windows could not start the software protection service on Local Computer.  You may also notice that Microsoft Office pops up with an error stating Microsoft Office can’t find your licence for this application.  A repair attempt was unsuccessful or was cancelled.  Microsoft Office will now exit.  I experienced the error on Windows 2012 R2 Server but it seems that this is common on all operating systems above Windows 2008 R2.

This is what you get when trying to start the service:

You may also get the below when starting Microsoft Office:

The fix was relatively quick and painless, simply run the below in an administrative command prompt:

icacls %windir%\ServiceProfiles\NetworkService\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\SoftwareProtectionPlatform /grant "BUILTIN\Administrators:(OI)(CI)(F)" "NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM:(OI)(CI)(F)" "NT Service\sppsvc:(OI)(CI)(R,W,D)" "NETWORK SERVICE:(OI)(CI)(F)"

 

You may find that you need to create the SoftwareProtectionPlatform folder first if it does not exist.

You then just need to add permissions for the Network Service account to the following registry keys:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\WPA

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SoftwareProtectionPlatform

Then restart the Software Protection service and Windows/Office should be activated again.

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