Earlier this month, Microsoft finally released the much-awaited Windows 10 Anniversary Update.
Out of the gate, the update was reportedly causing issues to numerous users by crashing and freezing their systems. The bugs were reportedly caused by third-party apps that are incompatible with the upgrade. In most cases, running the built-in System Maintenance Troubleshooter and a system reboot fixed these issues.
Now, users are complaining about another major issue that a simple reboot can't fix.
The Windows 10 Anniversary Update is killing millions of user webcams.
The latest update supposedly brings numerous enhancements such as an improved Edge Browser, expanded stylus support, a smarter Cortana digital assistant, and enhanced security features, like Windows Hello, a method that lets users log in via facial recognition using a connected camera.
Unfortunately, this expanded camera functionality is the culprit for the latest user woes.
According to Microsoft, they changed the way the system utilizes webcams with the Anniversary update. Unlike before, where only one application can use a webcam at a time, the update allows multiple applications to access it simultaneously. The system accomplishes this by relaying the video feed through a "frame server" first.
For example, before the update, a user can't use Skype and use Windows Hello's facial recognition simultaneously with the same webcam. With the update, by using the camera frame server, applications can now share the camera feed, allowing for multiple camera apps to run at the same time.
This camera frame server, however, is the cause of the widespread issue. Since the server only supports uncompressed video streams, this breaks compatibility with consumer webcams that encodes their video with compressed formats like H.264 and MJPEG. Webcam models that use compressed streams include the popular Logitech C920.
Due to this change, users of the affected models report that the update is causing their webcams to freeze and be rendered unusable upon access.
Microsoft has already acknowledged that the camera issue exists but don't expect an official fix anytime soon. A patch to fix the problem may not arrive until September.
How to fix the Anniversary Update webcam issue
If you have a webcam that's affected by the Anniversary Update's video issues, here are workarounds you could do until the official fix arrives in September.
One option is to roll back the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. A rollback is possible within 10 days after the upgrade.
The other more technical fix requires a familiarity with the Windows Registry.
Important note: Tweaking the Windows Registry may cause more problems to your system if you inadvertently change registry entries. Make sure you have a backup of your Windows machine before attempting registry changes.
1. Using Windows Search on the taskbar, type regedit. Click the best match. This will open the Registry Editor.
2. Browse to this registry folder path:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows Media Foundation\Platform
3. Right-click on the Platform folder, then choose New, then select DWORD (32-bit).
4. A new value will appear. Rename this "EnableFrameServerMode."
5. Right-click on this new entry and enter the number 0 in the Value Data box, then click OK.
6. Restart your computer.
While we are on the subject of webcams, it is even more critical to protect your camera from unauthorized access.