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I have Sony VAIO VGN-NS290J laptop. I installed Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit. I was able to find drivers for all hardware without any problems.

Recently, I installed Microsoft Windows Live Essentials 2011, i.e. Windows Live Messenger 2011. Ever since that application is running on my computer, my webcam is not recognized by the OS any more. It is listed as the "Unknown Device" and placed in the Universal Serial Bus controllers group in the Device Manager.

There don't seem to be any drivers for this webcam. It's a standard Sony Motion Eye web camera and Sony does not offer any drivers for it. There is one application to download that utilizes the camera, but there are no drivers (and the system is showing the same behavior regardless of the presence of the application).

It happens from time to time that the webcam becomes recognized by the OS again, after a couple of restarts; but not always. Then it becomes unknown again.

I am absolutely positive that this issue is caused by the Windows Live Messenger 2011, because same symptoms caused the same effects before. I wish to be able to continue to use this software, but also to use my webcam. I was wondering if anyone had a similar issue and if there is a way to fix it. Thanks for all the help, I appreciate it.

Update: I have discovered a pattern - if the camera goes astray, restarting the machine does not bring it back; but switching the computer off and turning it back on does. Every time! This is getting super complicated :)

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So if you uninstall Live Messenger 2011, your web cam functions correctly? Very interesting problem. – Doc Jun 27 '11 at 22:26
Actually, I haven't done that, so I'm not sure. I don't know if the Live Messenger 2011 screws up the camera for good or only causes conflicts while it is installed. I am trying to find an answer if it is possible to make the two coexist in the system. – Boris Jun 27 '11 at 22:31
Also, I want to use my camera in Live Messenger :) – Boris Jun 27 '11 at 22:32
Okay.. It just really sounds to me like a low level hardware problem. But you say you're pretty sure this is induced by the Live installer. I suppose you could look around for some USB debugger software - it does exist, that may give you some clues, if no one else has an easy answer. – Doc Jun 27 '11 at 22:36
When you do get the camera working, what causes it to stop working? Opening Windows Live? Or does it happen after a certain time has past? ...? – jpaugh Jun 28 '11 at 0:08
up vote 1 down vote accepted

My new (3 months old) Sony VAIO F Series laptop has the same problem as boris1234 describes here.

If I close the laptop to sleep and then reopen the laptop, the webcam won't resume operation. The USB2 driver for the webcam will turn into Unknown Device under Universal Serial Bus controllers in Device Manager. Only "cold" booting the laptop can fix the problem until the problem occurs again. Device Status:

Windows has stopped this device because it has reported problems. (Code 43)

I don't bring up "Windows Live" on my laptop but it is in my system. Not sure what else causes the crash of the USB2 Webcam driver, even "Restart" (warm boot) can not fix the problem. "Cold" boot does.

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I believe that Messenger simply overwrote and/or unregistered your webcam driver. You can probably just get the driver from the manufacturer and re-install it.*

*Caveat: I don't do Windows.

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I doubt it, because if the driver is overwritten, how come the camera does work from time to time? As for getting the drivers, that's impossible, as I originally wrote in the question body. Too bad, though. – Boris Jun 27 '11 at 23:45
Not even this one?… – bahamat Jul 5 '11 at 6:44
That's not a driver, it's an application. Nevertheless, I tried installing it to see if it will help - no such luck. – Boris Jul 5 '11 at 7:23
Well, I tried ;-) Sorry you're stuck though... – bahamat Jul 5 '11 at 7:25
Thanks for being emphatic :) – Boris Jul 7 '11 at 11:13

Well, despite Sony's neglect in offering a driver, Windows must be using some driver in order to recognize it at all. Sometime when the webcam is recognized properly, try updating the driver for it, rolling the driver back, or reinstalling the device. As a last resort, you might try uninstalling the device, then unplugging and replugging it to see how well Windows automagicaly finds the driver. You can access these options by finding your device in the Device Manager and opening its properties. This should all be on the driver tab.

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Thanks for the reply. Actually, I've tried everything you've said. The only thing I haven't tried is to mess with the camera physically (to see if the cables and connectors got loose inside the casing for instance). But I really don't plan on doing that - I have the feeling I'd be doing more damage than good. – Boris Jun 28 '11 at 0:06

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