Q: I have a Dell All-In-One that is a little old but it works fine for me. Now that Microsoft has closed their store in Bellevue I can no longer get expert, hands-on help from the good guys who solved the glitches from Windows 10 upgrades.
For years, the camera on my Dell worked fine. Recently, I found that the camera no longer worked.
In the olden days, I could just call the Microsoft store, make an appointment and bring the computer in for a software fix that was caused by Microsoft upgrades. Turns out, according to Microsoft support, the issue is a Windows 10 upgrade from Microsoft that eliminated the drivers for my built-in camera.
Dell tells me to go buy an attached camera and that will solve the problem as Dell has no drivers that they will have to fix the issue caused by Microsoft. It is the old problem of fingers pointing elsewhere and the computer user caught in-between. Can you help?
— P. Gerald Marra, Bellevue
A: I wish I had a simple solution for you. The problem ultimately stems from the fact that Microsoft Windows is an “open” operating system. That is, Microsoft encourages third-party developers to create hardware and software that works with the operating system. That spurs innovation and the competitive market keeps costs down for consumers.
The downside? Third-party developers in many cases have to update software and device drivers when a new version of the Windows operating system is released.
Here’s the problem: Though your computer may work just as well years after you bought it, it has likely been replaced by newer models on the market. So it’s likely that over the years the number of users of that model of computer has shrunk. As a result, as time goes by there is less incentive for third-party manufacturers to invest in updating that camera’s drivers to work properly with the new version of the operating system.
So who’s to blame, Microsoft for making changes in the operating system or the third-party developer for not wanting to spend money to update drivers for older devices?
Microsoft does offer some workarounds that may allow some apps and programs that are no longer compatible with the operating system to work. First, you can run the program through a “compatibility troubleshooter.” If that doesn’t solve the problem, you can try launching the app or program in “compatibility mode.” You’ll find instructions for both options here.
If neither the troubleshooter nor compatibility mode gets your camera working, I’m afraid your only choice is to either get a new camera that is compatible with the operating system or to not update your operating system. If your computer is connected to the internet, however, not installing operating system updates is risky.
Q: My SD port on my old HP Pavilion (upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10) no longer responds to any SD card I insert. It worked fine just a couple months ago but now, no response at all. The power LED lights up (and stays illuminated), but other than that nothing happens. What do you recommend doing?
— Tim Dereg
A: I’m figuring you’re not wanting to spend a lot of money having a shop put a new SD port in your old laptop, right?
If that’s the case, I’d just buy an SD card reader that plugs into a USB port. Depending on how many different ports you want on the device you’ll spend $7 to $60.