Windows 10 Anniversary Update broke millions of webcams

Windows 10 Anniversary Update broke millions of webcams
Credit: Wikimedia (CC)

Having problems with your webcam? Millions of people are after installing the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.

If your webcam is freezing after about a minute when using Skype or another app, then you can thank Microsoft.

The Redmond giant meant to allow multiple apps to access the camera at the same time, but it didn’t want users to suffer poor performance as those apps concurrently accessed the webcam and the MJPEG or H264 encoding processes. So, Microsoft decided the best plan was to stop USB webcams from using MJPEG or H264 and instead to only support webcams that use YUY2 encoding.

Although Microsoft claimed there have been a “small number of reports,” that doesn’t jibe with comments on Microsoft’s community forums. It seems that both enterprise and consumers have been impacted since the Anniversary Update.

“We have a working product running for years and millions of unhappy users that are unable to use it at all after this update,” user Dacuda posted. “We have millions of users, and we are in a situation now where we have to tell them not to update the Windows anymore or switch to Mac OS.”

Stephan B, Crealogix wrote, “Thousands of our customers can’t use our product now to process their payments by e-banking!”

Several more comments from developers claimed thousands upon thousands of people can’t use perfectly good webcams that worked before the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. As more people install the update, more will have dead webcams. Users are ticked and demanding answers as well as a solution.

Mike M from the Windows Camera Team explained, “It was important for us to enable concurrent camera access, so Windows Hello, Microsoft Hololens and other products and features could reliably assume that the camera would be available at any given time, regardless of what other applications may be accessing it.” But Microsoft “wanted to prevent applications from unknowingly degrading the user experience due to a platform change.”

He added, “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.”

He admitted that Microsoft had “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."

If you haven’t checked it, then you might want to make sure your webcam is working because you have only 10 days to roll back to the previous Windows 10 version. According to Brad Sams on, tech savvy individuals might want to make changes to the Windows Registry; otherwise, you will be stuck waiting for Microsoft to issue a fix, which might rollout in September.

This isn’t the first problem users have experienced after installing the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Microsoft previously claimed that only a “small number” of users with solid state drives (SSD) were experiencing Windows 10 freezing after updating to the latest and greatest version of Windows. The “fix” was to either roll back Windows 10 or start Windows 10 in Safe Mode.

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