The Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which began rolling out on August 2, came with some unfortunate side effects for some users—it killed their webcam. A Windows employee has addressed the issue, but it looks no fix will be available until September.
The problem was initially noted by several users a few days after the update went live. Basically, this issue renders USB webcams and network-connected webcams inoperable in programs like Skype or Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), among others. The update also caused some devices to unintentionally freeze up.
The reason for this behavior seems to rest in the changes that were made to how the OS access the camera in the Anniversary update. Before the update, only one application could access the camera at a time. With the Anniversary update, also known as version 1607, a new service called the Windows Camera Frame Server allows for multiple connections at once, and that's causing some problems.
As noted by Ars Technica, the new Windows Camera Frame Server only supports uncompressed data. That's a problem, because some webcams and video services rely on compressed data, which means that it has to be converted. And, when you have multiple applications trying to push both types of data, it gets even more complex.
SEE: Windows Update for Business: A hands-on look at how to take control (Tech Pro Research)
So, why does this matter to the enterprise? Many conference rooms and video conferencing systems could be running Windows 10 with the update, and this issue makes it impossible to use video tools with many cameras. For example, the Logitech C920 and C930e cameras were among those affected. Although, it hasn't been noted to affect built-in webcams for laptops just yet.
The issue was addressed in the Microsoft developer forums by a user named Mike M, from the Windows Camera Team. The first issue involves a decoding problem for video compression format known as Motion JPEG (MJPEG). The second change involved to fix the issue is to expose the H.264 media type.
According to Mike M's post, Microsoft is working on the first issue, and they have a prototype they are working on, but it will be a little while before it is released.
"Once testing is complete, we will release it to servicing so it reaches you and your customers automatically through Windows Update," the post said. "We expect this update path will happen in September. I remain committed to communicating more specific dates once I have confirmation."
The H.264 fix will be shipped separately, and Mike M did say that it would take more time, but didn't give a specific date. What is troubling, though, is that there is currently no formal workaround. So, if your camera isn't working on Windows 10, you'll need to grin and bear it until September.
Until then, consider switching out your video conferencing machine for one running Linux, a Mac, or one running an older version of Windows. Or, just add this to the growing list of reasons not to upgrade to Windows 10.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- The Windows 10 Anniversary Update caused a problem that broke many users webcams, but a formal fix will not come until September.
- The issue stems from a new service called the Windows Camera Frame Server, which only supports uncompressed data and has problems dealing with compressed data.
- Currently there is no workaround for the problem, so IT will need to change out any machines in their conference rooms that around running the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.
- Windows 10: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- Windows 10: You've got questions, I've got answers (ZDNet)
- Windows 10 violates your privacy by default, here's how you can protect yourself (TechRepublic)
- Windows 10: A tale of 10 upgrades (ZDNet)
- Five reasons not to upgrade to Windows 10 (TechRepublic)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.