Windows 7 Pro GUI is blank screen

We had a power event at our house the other day. I received a robo call from the local power company at 08:37 AM that beginning at 08:30 AM the power would be out of service at our house for 3 hours while a transformer was being replaced with a new one. I have 7 uninterruptable power supplies (UPS) consumer grade. I knew they wouldn't be able to sustain power for 3 hours, but I just left every thing set like it was with 3 computers running. The power came back on after only 2 hours of being off. When it came back on the power surge took out my 8 port KVM switch. I had it plugged into a power strip instead of one of my UPSs. A dumb mistake I made maybe 4  years ago and didn't realize I had till the KVM switch quit working.

While waiting for my replacement KVM switch to arrive, I Wanted to be able to continue to use the 2 PCs I use most. So I moved my Windows 7 64-bit Pro PC  to a secondary monitor that sits a little farther away from me then does my primary monitor. After the move this PC booted up and everything was working fine. Because the monitor was a little farther away from me I wanted to change the screen resolution on the secondary monitor so that the characters wouldn't be so difficult to read. I am used to setting monitor screen resolution on PCs by the numbers like 800x600, 1024x768, or 1900x1600 etc. The screen for making this change required a little exploring on Control Panel to locate. One of the options presented to me was 125%. A 25% increase looked just about right to me. So I clicked the radio button to select that. I don't remember the exact sequence of events that took place after that, but I did want to make the change in screen resolution without interruption. I didn't have any other programs running on my task bar.

I was presented with a sub-window that said reboot was required to make the screen resolution change I requested. So I clicked OK. That was the last time I saw my Windows GUI on that PC in a normal mode. I must have botched the restore process to a restore-point using Control Panel. Now every time that PC boots up in normal mode the screen goes completely dark after what appears to be a normal Windows 7 Pro start sequence. If I just let the computer run, it eventually goes into hibernate mode. But I know that the OS is running OK because I have Windows Media Center (WMC) on that PC. At times that I know that I have TV shows scheduled to be recorded, this PC will come out of hibernate mode, record the TV program,  and go back into hibernate mode. I can also reboot in SAFE mode and go to the USB hard disk directory that my TV programs are recorded to and see the WTV files with the date stamps that tell me that those shows were just recorded that day. So I know that Windows 7 Pro is running OK, but I just can't see anything.

More than once in this saga, Windows would give me an error message that says "Windows didn't start . . . ." It would then give me an option to allow Windows to do an automatic restore to the last known good restore-point. The outcome of that process was never what I wanted. I also failed to burn a "Restore Disk". Another mistake that I'll not make again given my current experience. I am not sure that I will be able to replace all the software I have installed on this PC should I decide to reinstall Windows 7 Pro on it. It came with WMC already installed on it and no disk should I need to do a reinstall. It was supposed to be a multimedia PC at the time I bought it. Microsoft has basically abandoned WMC and wants everybody to convert to Windows-10. That is two other stories I don't want to write about. I have already written too much here.

Does anybody have a fix for this problem that has a chance of success?
Ted PalmerInformation Technology ConsultantAsked:
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Scott CSenior EngineerCommented:
You could try an non-destructive repair of Windows 7.

http://windowssecrets.com/top-story/win7s-no-reformat-nondestructive-reinstall/

That might get your screen back.

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PerarduaadastraCommented:
The problem appears to revolve around the changes you made to the display settings, so why not boot into safe mode and uninstall the display adapter from within device manager?

Reboot the machine and the graphics hardware will be detected by the OS and the existing drivers reinstalled. There's a good chance that they will install using either default or optimum settings; either way you would have a usable display. Even if the drivers don't reinstall you should still get a picture on the screen and so take it from there.
Ted PalmerInformation Technology ConsultantAuthor Commented:
ScottCha,

This looks extremely promising, and exactly what I asked for. I haven't finished reading through the entire procedure yet. I want to be sure and do that before I apply it. I don't like surprises. So I may not actually apply it this evening. I don't want to start unless I am sure that I have enough time to complete it.

Thank you for your help.

Ted Palmer
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Ted PalmerInformation Technology ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Perarduaadastra,

I entered my response to ScottCha before I knew you had responded also. I should have refreshed my webpage before responding to avoid that from happening. I'll do better next time I hope. I'll give some serious consideration before I execute the procedure at the link that ScottCha provided.

Thank you for your help.

 Ted Palmer
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
on startup press f8 at the options screen press V
Ted PalmerInformation Technology ConsultantAuthor Commented:
David Johnson,

F8 was not on the startup menu I got. Startup menu choices were F9, F10, F11, F12. So when I pressed F8, the computer reacted as if I had press nothing and went ahead booting up as if I had pressed nothing as best I could tell from the blank screen it left me looking at. Which is what I was getting when I was too slow at making a choice on the Startup menu. The Startup menu has never given me much time to make a choice.

Sorry, but that doesn't seem to do anything for me. Thank you for your contribution to the cause though.

Ted Palmer
Ted PalmerInformation Technology ConsultantAuthor Commented:
David Johnson,

I have been doing some more reading, and it seems that to do as you suggest that I have press the F8 key before that other start menu (F9, F10, F11 and F12) that I previously mentioned comes up. But there seems to be a trick to the process that I am not familiar with because I can't be for sure exactly when to press F8. It's not long after I press the power on key before that other menu (F9, F10, F11 and F12) shows up. I have by brute force shut down the computer (Press the power key off and hold it down till the power actually goes off -- which takes about 4 seconds), and then held down the F8 key and kept it down before pressing the power button to make the power come back on. When I do that I still get the menu I previously described (F9, F10, F11 and F12). If I don't do anything at that point, (I don't have to wait very long.) the computer will go ahead and start Windows. Which after displaying the Windows flag, and a message that "Windows is Starting", eventually ends up being a blank screen. I call that "la la land". Because at that point I have no clue as to where the hell my computer is at. I can't see anything.

Any suggestions? I'm trying to follow your instructions, but apparently my system must deviate somewhat from what you are familiar with. Thank you for your help.

Ted Palmer
Ted PalmerInformation Technology ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Perarduaadastra,

I am trying to follow your suggestion, but I am a little uncertain about uninstalling my "Display adapter". Approximately how many times have you done this and gotten favorable results? Is Windows really going to reinstall my "Display adapter" when it discovers the hardware connected to the I/O bus, but not installed? I'm asking because if this doesn't work, I'm screwed. I won't be able to try anything else like the suggestions made to me by ScottCha and David Johnson. In fact it would be all over at that point. I would have to do a complete reinstall, and not the "non-destructive repair of Windows 7" that ScottCha is suggesting.

In Control Panel I have found "Device Manager" >> "Display adapters". Mine is an "ATI Radeon HD 5450". When I right click the display adapter a popup menu appears with the menu choice "Uninstall". Is that the one you are telling me to click? What do I do after that? Just shutdown and reboot?

Thank you for you help and patience. I appreciate every bit of it.

Ted Palmer
nobusCommented:
to boot to safe mode with the F8 key  - you should hit it continuously AFTER the f9-F12 menu
then try a system restore to a date it was fine
Ted PalmerInformation Technology ConsultantAuthor Commented:
ScottCha,

I attempted the non-destructive repair of Windows 7 last night after following the link you provided. The Windows-7 OS DVD that I have shows a copyright date of 2009 Hewlett-Packard Development Company. The article the link you provided has a date of By Fred Langa on July 14, 2011. So, based on a statement made by Fred Langa, my DVD doesn't have Service Pack One (SP1) on it, and therefore requires that I uninstall SP1 before doing the non-destructive repair process. So that is what I did.

I thought the uninstall of SP1 seemed to be going OK even though it took 1.25 hours to partially complete. After which I received a sub-window message that restart was required to complete the uninstall of SP1. So I clicked OK on that. The PC rebooted and began to process the completion of the uninstall process for about 30 minutes before giving me an error message dialog sub-window saying the the uninstall process could not be completed successfully, and that it was going to restore what had been uninstalled. That was the last message that I got from that computer. After a while it just went into hibernation. That is where I left is since last night. Oh! I just found the message it gave me: "Failure converting Service Pack -- Reverting Changes. Do not turn off your computer." Like I said it went into hibernation after that. That is where I left it at the time. I have been too fed up to do anything with it since then.

I guess I'll try Perarduaadastra offering. If that fails I would have to do a destructive reinstall anyway. I'm not sure about the current state of this PC because the uninstall of SP1 did not end with any kind of a message that suggested success.

Thank you for your comment, but it just wasn't going to work this time on this PC. This PC has served me well for over 4.5 years. Its beginning to look like its service life may be over. I'm pretty disappointed with Hewlett-Packard anyway for other reasons I won't go into here.

Ted Palmer
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
perhaps you should build your own SP1 Disk using the older version that you have using nlite https://www.ntlite.com/  and a downloaded SP1 http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=5842
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Or download it from Microsoft using your product key
https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/software-download/windows7
Ted PalmerInformation Technology ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Oh! I now have a mouse pointer on a blank screen. I guess that is some progress.
Ted PalmerInformation Technology ConsultantAuthor Commented:
David Johnson, MVP

Thanks Dave. I believe I'll try the download using my product key.
Ted PalmerInformation Technology ConsultantAuthor Commented:
The Windows download site would not verify my product key which I got by using Magic Bubble program to read it out of Windows Register. It gave several possible legitimate reasons beside piracy as the cause of failure to verify.  Now I have to shut everything down again to see if I can read a product key off of a sticker which support page suggested might be on the bottom of my computer.

Nothing ever works like I would expect it to. But there is always a perfectly good reason.
Ted PalmerInformation Technology ConsultantAuthor Commented:
The real program name that I used to extract my Windows-7 license key from the Registry is Magic Jelly Bean(s?).
nobusCommented:
if it is an OEM PC, the product code is on the label on the pc - and your program will not give the correct code; it's intended for use on non OEM systems
Scott CSenior EngineerCommented:
At this point you might want to make sure you have a good backup of your data and simply do a wipe/reinstall of the system.  4.5 years isn't that old for a laptop.  As long as the hardware is good, you should have a few more years out of it.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
when you have the mouse on a blank screen this would indicate to me that explorer is not starting.
if you press ctrl-alt-del  and select task manager it should popup and you can then start explorer .. file / run new task / explorer
Ted PalmerInformation Technology ConsultantAuthor Commented:
David, Thank you. I'll try that this morning.

ScottCha, that is what I was thinking yesterday. Yes I have a good backup of my data, and I can reinstall most of my software. There may even be a download of Windows Media Center from Microsoft. I did a Google search on alternatives to WMC yesterday. It looks like there are at least 2 open source alternatives for free. But it seems nothing is really free. We pay with our money or we pay with the value of our time. The people who create that software need money too. They have all the same expenses the rest of us do, and they need the money to pay for it. They probably get it from advertising.

Thanks guys,

Ted Palmer
nobusCommented:
look if there is a factory restore partition
then you can use that to recover the OS + key code
you can try putting the image of the old disk on a new one also, for doing this
i use the free paragon software for this :
http://www.paragon-software.com/home/br-free/download.html
Ted PalmerInformation Technology ConsultantAuthor Commented:
This is a Phreaking MIRICLE ..!! It just started working. I shutdown the computer because I was tied up on an urgent something else. It had been shutdown for almost 2 days. I was going to try Perarduaadastra suggestion because I my mind it had a higher risk of failure requiring a destructive reinstall. If that didn't work I planned to do a destructive reinstall of MS Windows-7 anyway. I had moved this PC to a different KVM switch, and the KVM switch wasn't ready when I powered on the PC in question. So I missed the opportunity to press F-8 to start in SAFE mode. While I was waiting for the PC to finish its boot sequence, I heard the Windows startup music that verifies that the sound subsystem working. Not long after that the logon screen appeared with the CTL-ALT-DEL requirement to logon.

That tells me that the issue was probably caused by an intermittent hardware problem. I'm glad I have one of my two main computers back, but now I can't trust it. It could quit working again any time. Even a recovery disk or a destructive reinstall won't do any good if it is a hardware problem.

I'm going to close this question out and evenly distribute the points in the process.

Thank you,

Ted Palmer
Ted PalmerInformation Technology ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Thank you guys. I learned a lot from your help.
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