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Microsoft working on better Windows 11, Windows 10 graphics and audio driver quality

An image with a colorful Windows 11 logo and dimmed background

In May last year, at the Computex event, Panos Panay, the Executive Vice President (EVP) and Chief Product Officer at Microsoft, stated that maintaining the high quality of Windows 11 was the company's highest priority. And although not explicitly stated, it looks like Microsoft certainly intends to do that as it continues to update its driver assessment procedures.

Garrett Duchesne, a Principal Program Manager at Microsoft, published a Tech community blog post recently, outlining the latest improvements the company is making in terms of audio and display driver evaluation. The new driver evaluation method will be looking at Software Digital Rights Management (SWDRM) catalog reload events, which will help troubleshoot related driver timeout issues during software-based DRM content playback on Netflix and other similar applications.

In the documentation titled "Percentage of devices with SWDRM playback that triggered the Catalog reload event", Microsoft explains:

Devices that experience a Code Integrity catalog reload event when loading binaries into mfpmp.exe, may receive a timeout from Netflix and other applications. This "device based" measure is used to capture this scenario.

DRM (Digital Rights Management) techniques (Software or Hardware) are used during Video Playback on windows devices. We use the set of all devices with SWDRM playback as our sample place to compute the percentage.

Aside from that, the company is also looking to better account Audio Processing Object or APO (software-based Digital Signal Processing) crashing as the current method can often lead to Audio Crash measure failing for some time on the driver submission. This has been explained in the documentation titled "Percent of machines with at least one APO disablement in past 7 days" where Microsoft says:

When Audio APOs crash at least 10 times consecutively, the Audio service disables the APO's further usage in order for the suer to have an error free sound experience. This may result in our Audio Crash measure failing for some time on the driver submission and then start to pass again when the APO causing the issue in that driver submission gets disabled. This measure keeps track of the APO disablements in the past 7 days compared to the devices using audio in that day (Audio Client Initialize event).

While Microsoft continues its efforts to improve Windows drivers, there are issues out there that often fly under the reader. Such issues are sometimes related to Multiplane Overlay (MPO), a feature that appears to cause various display-related problems on Windows 11 as well as Windows 10, where disabling it can often fix a variety of bugs. These bugs include the white mouse cursor, black screen, white screen, stuttering, and flickering, among others.

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