The Windows 10 Anniversary Update is breaking webcams

Broken webcams are no fun. It's even worse when the culprit is your operating system.

Microsoft’s got another Windows 10 Anniversary Update problem to fix following the login freeze issue that came to light in mid-August.

Many users are now complaining that they can no longer use their USB-based webcams since updating to the latest version of Windows 10. The source of the problem is that Microsoft decided to filter out two common video compression formats for connected webcams in the Anniversary Update, as first reported by

Microsoft’s reasons for restricting the formats—MJPEG and H.264—were reasonable enough, as explained by Windows Camera Team member Mike M. on Microsoft’s developer forums.

In the Anniversary Update, Microsoft allows multiple apps to access a single webcam at the same time. The problem with MJPEG is that multiple apps could then decode the stream at the same time, which would reduce system performance unnecessarily. Mike M. said H.264’s problem was a little different and could basically result in apps interfering with each other.

It appears Microsoft’s simple solution of disallowing compression formats led to a much bigger problem. Potentially millions of webcams were suddenly broken, since they would freeze after failing to enable the blacklisted formats.

The impact on you at home: If your webcam has had problems after updating to the Anniversary Update, this may very well be the reason. Mike M. says Microsoft hopes to distribute a fix for the MJPEG issue in September, but solving H.264 will take a little longer. Unfortunately, until there’s a fix there’s not much you can do other than wait.

If your webcam is a mission-critical peripheral then you may want to try and rollback to pre-Anniversary Update Windows 10. However, remember you only have 10 days to revert your system after you upgrade—another change bundled with the Anniversary Update. For early adopters, that means it’s already too late.

For those who haven’t updated their systems yet, it might be a good idea to wait until September or later in order to save yourself any webcam hassles.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Windows 10

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?