If you’ve not been living under a rock you’re very likely to know Microsoft recently released a major Windows 10 Anniversary Update that tweaked and added a number of features, but the update came with a few problems. First, a number of Windows users complained of recurring system freezes, and now it looks like there is also an issue that is causing problems with a large number of USB-based webcams.
You may have already read about this issue because this has been around for days now if I recall correctly. I did not consider it a major issue at first but now more and more users are coming out with similar complaints. It seems the decision to prevent them from using the popular MJPEG and H.264 encoding processes in favor of the NV12 and YUY2 formats is affecting far more devices than Microsoft anticipated, causing millions of cameras to crash.
The most common problem seems to occur when using apps like Skype, with a number of users reporting that their webcam video repeatedly freezes while using the program. Windows Camera Team engineer Mike M responded to user complaints (via Thurrott) regarding the issue in a thread on Microsoft’s official support site, and he explained that the problem seems to stems from changes made to the way Windows handles decoding for video, specifically in regards to MJPEG or H.264 encoding.
“With the Anniversary Update to Windows 10, it is now possible for multiple applications to access the camera in ways that weren’t possible before,” Mike M 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.”
“One of the reasons this led to the MJPEG decoding is because we wanted to prevent multiple applications from decoding the same stream at the same time, which would be a duplicated effort and thus an unnecessary performance hit. This can be even more noticeable or perhaps trigger error cases on in-market devices with a hardware decoder which may be limited on how many decodes can take place simultaneously. We wanted to prevent applications from unknowingly degrading the user experience due to a platform change.”
Mike M noted that these changes have been in the works for some time, but he admits that Microsoft could have communicated this information better.
“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,” he said. “We dropped the ball on that front, so I’d like to offer my apologies to you all. We’re working on getting better documentation out, to help answer any questions you may have.”
When reached for comment by engadget, a Microsoft spokesperson gave the following:
Windows 10 continues to have the highest customer satisfaction of any version of Windows. We have seen a small number of reports of unexpected behaviors following the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Engineering and customer support are investigating these on a case by case basis and offering trouble-shooting tips as necessary. If a customer has any issues, we offer customer support at www.microsoft.com/support.
Microsoft plans on releasing an update to resolve the camera issues sometime in September but ‘highest customer satisfaction’? Sounds like a bit of a lie but since I for one, am a fan of Windows 10 I’ll assume that’s true.
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Considering how Microsoft has been blatantly ignoring user’s choice and privacy regarding Windows 10 in its own quest to get Windows 10 on a billion devices, if this is this how Microsoft is going to release updates after literally forcing many users to switch to Windows 10, it may soon realize the actual limits it can push it’s customers to before they start looking for a more reliable platform.