Support & Documentation

Microsoft Windows 10 update effect on Webcam

A Windows 10 update has stopped many popular webcams from working.

The update, released earlier this month, stops many cameras being used for Skype or to broadcast and stream footage.

The cause seems to be a change in the way Windows 10 handles video so it can be used by more than one program at a time.

Soon after Windows Update 1607 was distributed in early August, many people started reporting webcam problems to Microsoft  via its support site. The trouble affected both webcams connected via USB cables or on the same network and meant either that footage could not be streamed, or that images froze after a while.

Analysis put the blame on changes to the video encoding systems with which Windows 10 works. The update ends support for two widely used encoding systems so it became possible for more than one application to use video as it is being shot. Prior to the update Windows 10 only allowed one application access to a stream.

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.

Changes to the way Microsoft handles updates also seem to have made the problem harder to fix. Prior to update 1607, Windows 10 users could roll-back to a previous version within 30 days of it being installed. The update cut that to 10 days giving people little chance to switch back to the earlier version of Windows 10 under which their webcams worked.

Microsoft said it was working on a fix but has not given any date for when the patch will be available.

He added that Microsoft was working on a way to fix the problem and get webcams working again. The fix is likely to be released in September.