Microsoft temporarily fixed broken webcams on ARM PCs by lowering their image quality

The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 with its accessories

Last week, Surface Pro X owners suddenly discovered that their ARM-powered computers could no longer use cameras and camera-related features, such as Windows Hello. Any attempt to open an app utilizing integrated cameras resulted in the "0xA00F4271 (0x80004005)" error. Fortunately, Microsoft deployed a temporary fix relatively quickly, albeit not without a huge asterisk.

The updated Windows Release Health dashboard contains all the details about the issue that crippled cameras in ARM-based Windows PCs. According to Microsoft, the bug affects devices with Qualcomm 8cx Gen 1, Gen 2, Microsoft SQ1, and Microsoft SQ2 processors running Windows 11 version 22H2 and 21H2, and Windows 10 22H2. In other words, it is not Surface-exclusive. At the same time, external USB cameras continue operating without issues.

A few days ago, users started reporting that integrated cameras work again, thanks to Microsoft deploying a "critical troubleshooter" to mitigate the issue on most affected Windows devices. That troubleshooter kicked in automatically and did not require any action from the user. You can check your ARM-powered PC by looking for the following entry in the troubleshooting history:

Hardware and devices troubleshooter

Automatically change system settings to fix a problem on your device

Although cameras are working again, Microsoft says the mitigation is temporary. Moreover, the fix is not available on managed devices, with troubleshooters disabled by administrators. Resolving the camera bug on those PCs requires executing the following command with administrator privileges:

reg add "HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Qualcomm\Camera" /v EnableQCOMFD /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f

You can use the Command Line method on a non-managed device if it has not yet received the critical troubleshooter. However, Microsoft warns that it is intended for the affected devices only, so do not mess with your system's registry if the integrated cameras are working.

Another thing worth noting is that the workaround has a side effect: Microsoft says it might disable some camera features or lower the image quality. The company is working with OEMs on a new camera driver to bring cameras back to their normal behavior.

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