The long-awaited Windows 10 anniversary update arrived early this month, bringing a number of new features to Microsoft’s latest operating system. But some users found it introduced a few less welcome changes, such as breaking their USB-connected webcams.
There had been a small number of reports stating that Windows 10 devices were freezing after being updated, but Microsoft has issued a workaround while it investigates the problem. With the webcam issue, however, the Redmond company hasn’t issued a temporary fix. Anyone experiencing problems may have to wait until Microsoft releases a patch, probably sometime in September.
Microsoft’s anniversary update allows multiple Windows 10 applications to use a webcam at the same time. Previously, if you were Skyping with one, for example, you couldn’t use the camera with other services.
In order to prevent performance drops as multiple apps simultaneously decode media streams, the anniversary update stopped USB webcams from using MJPEG or H264 encoded streams, allowing only YUY2 encoding.
If a Windows 10 device's webcam attempts to use MJPEG or H264 following the update, it will freeze. A number of cameras have reportedly been affected by the issue, including the popular Logitech C920.
In the support thread, users are blasting Microsoft for not advertising the change. A Microsoft camera engineer, Mike M, admitted that the company had done a “poor job” of letting people know about the changes.
"So yes, MJPEG and H.264 being decoded / filtered out is the result of a set of features we needed to implement, and this behavior was planned, designed, tested, and flighted out to our partners and Windows Insiders around the end of January of this year," wrote Mike M.
"We worked with partners to make sure their applications continued to function throughout this change, but we have done a poor job communicating this change out to you guys. We dropped the ball on that front, so I'd like to offer my apologies to you all," he added.
The fact that the number of days people have to roll-back the anniversary update was cut from 30 to just 10 has added to the problems, leaving people without working webcams unable to switch back to the earlier version of the OS.
Rafael Rivera has reported a workaround for the problem. Providing you don’t mind altering your registry, try making this change: HKLM\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows Media Foundation\Platform, add DWORD “EnableFrameServerMode” and set to 0, you will then need to restart Skype.