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Microsoft Windows 10 Anniversary Update breaks millions of webcams

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If you updated your Windows recently to the much awaited Windows 10 Anniversary Update, you may have noticed your webcam not functioning properly or freezing completely while using apps like Skype. You are not alone as millions of people all around the world are experiencing this issue. Microsoft has acknowledged the problem and hopefully, an update in September will fix this issue.

After Microsoft rolled out its Windows 10 Anniversary update, many users reported their Skype freezing after few seconds of the video call.

According to a Windows-focused blog called Thurrot, the issue Thurrot, the issue arose because Microsoft discontinued the MJPEG or H264 encoding in the input to prevent poor performance during simultaneous access of apps to the webcam.

Previously, if you were using your webcam in one app, say Skype, you could not use it for any other app requiring the webcam. People have been demanding a feature for multiple app access to the webcam for quite some time now.

In the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft removed the support for MJPEG or H264 encoded streams in Webcam broadcasting allowing only uncompressed YUY2 encoding. The company thought that it would prevent the duplicate encoding process which could result into a poor performance. Limiting the input encoding process would prevent such performance issues whenever apps directly accessed the webcam.

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However, it has led to freezing of all those apps which use MJPEG or H264 encoding. This includes popular apps like Skype, Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), and all custom CCTV programs. The problem affects popular USB based webcams of Logitech and other companies.

Initially, people thought that it was an issue with their webcams. However, soon many complaints and similar issues cropped up in Windows Support forum. The issue has even affected the enterprise customers who were dependent on webcams for their daily operations.

“Mike M” on the Windows Camera team responded to these queries and tried to explain to users about the cause of this problem. He said that the team was working on fixing the issue and an update will come in September.

However, that update will only resolve the issue with MJPEG encoding and you will have to wait if you use H264 in some applications.

Commenting on this latest incident, a Microsoft spokesperson said,

“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.”

You can also roll back your Anniversary update to previous version if it has been less than 10 days. Rafael from Thurrott blog has also discovered a temporary workaround this issue.

For that, you will have to make this change in your registry-

HKLM\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows Media Foundation\Platform, add DWORD “EnableFrameServerMode” and set to 0.

You will have to restart Skype once you have made the above changes.

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