Overnight sleuthing by German Windows guru Günter Born has shed light on the mysterious driver I talked about yesterday. We now know that the driver that appeared on many Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 systems wreaks havoc on USB connections for some smartphones, including Android and Lumia phones.
Born writes in his blog that found the patch in the Windows Update Catalog—not an easy task given the catalog’s anemic search capabilities — and dug into the update file. The “Microsoft – WPD – 2/22/2016 12:00:00 AM – 5.2.5326.4762” patch contains drivers for MediaTek Android devices. MediaTek, based in Taiwan, provides chips for a huge variety of phones. This “new” driver is from Shenzhen Diadem Technology Co.
Specifically, Born says:
The .inf files shipped within the CAB file specifies that this update supports the following drivers:
- Android ADB Interface
- Android Composite ADB Interface
- Android Bootloader Interface
- Android USB Driver
Other .inf files contain information about MTP protocol support via WPT driver.
What to make of the alphabet soup? In a nutshell, Windows Portable Devices (WPD) drivers allow Windows “to communicate with music players, storage devices, mobile phones, and many other types of connected devices.” WPD is a smorgasbord, containing many different drivers of different types.
The Android Debug Bridge (ADB) driver, contained in WPD, is the universal Android USB driver – plug an Android device into your computer and ADB does the talking. The Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) driver, also included in WPD, lets Windows get into the files on Android devices.
In this case, a bad ADB or MTP driver may have problems communicating with a phone plugged into your PC, a tablet, or an external hard drive – anything that speaks Android.
But that is not all! Oh, no. That is not all. (Apologies to Dr. Seuss.)
Born goes on to describe:
The package also contains outdated USB2Ser drivers (with inf files that contain comments from 2011). Also an RNDIS-over-USB host driver for Intenet Sharing device comes with an .inf file dated 2011…
In this Microsoft Answers forum thread a user reported update error 0x800f0217 – but I have seen similar reports. The users should be glad that the installation fails
Why is Microsoft suddenly foisting this outdated sack of drivers on perfectly healthy Windows 7, 8.1 and 10 systems? Beats me—and Microsoft isn’t saying. But it’s a lot like the “INTEL – System – 8/19/2016 12:00:00 AM – 10.1.2.80” drivers that caused so many problems two months ago.
I’ve seen reports that the driver update appears as optional, so it won’t automatically install on Windows 7 or 8.1 PCs – you have to check the box next to the driver in Windows Update in order to install it. But Windows 10 customers aren’t so lucky, as Win10 installs everything it sees.
What to do if you suddenly can’t get your Android devices working with Windows? My advice from December still stands:
If you can’t get back into your computer, your best bet is to roll back to a restore point, if you have one. (There’s a good explanation by Walter Glenn at How-To Geek.)
If that doesn’t work, try rolling back the bad driver. Here’s how.
Step 1. Get into Device Manager. There are quick ways to do that in each Windows version, but it’s simplest to just type Device Manager in the Start search (or Cortana) box.
Step 2. Find the peripheral with the bad driver. In this case, you’re probably looking for a phone, tablet, or external hard drive. Double-click on it.
Step 3. Roll back. Click the Driver tab then click the button marked Roll Back Driver. You’ll likely have to restart your machine.
If that doesn’t fix the problem, follow the procedure again, but in Step 3 click Update Driver and pray that Windows can find a driver for your computer that works.
With Windows 10, the updating takes place automatically when you “check” for updates – so to be sure, run wushowhide to block any pernicious driver updates.
I used to recommend using Windows 10’s “Include driver updates when I update Windows” in Settings/Windows Update/ Advanced options to block driver updates, and/or the “Do not include drivers with Windows Update” group policy. I don’t recommend those any more. The first option disappeared months ago from the Settings applet in Windows 10 version 1607. The second option is still available in gpedit (Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Windows Update), but I don’t think it works the way most reasonable people would expect.
I’m still not sure why some Windows systems see this driver update and others don’t. Without any documentation from Microsoft, we’re spitting in the wind.
Commiseration continues on the AskWoody Lounge.