Windows 10 and Plugable Docking Stations / USB Graphics Adapters

Update 7/26/16: In the year since the release of Windows 10, it has been installed on over 350 million PCs worldwide and most feedback has been quite positive.

Most of the challenges covered in the “Potential Issues” section of this post are no longer relevant thanks to the diligent work of DisplayLink and Microsoft updating their respective software to improve performance and stability over the past year.

The installation scenarios covered in this post will cease to become relevant with upcoming Windows 10 “Anniversary Update” (aka “Redstone”) release on August 2, 2016. The Anniversary Update brings with it big changes to how DisplayLink USB graphics functionality interacts with the Operating System, adding native support for our USB graphics devices and making the installation process even smoother while improving performance. Our blog post related to the Anniversary Update can be found here.

Summary: Windows 10 requires the latest drivers we recommend to be re-installed *after* OS upgrade is complete.

As we near the July 29th release of Windows 10, we’re getting frequent questions from customers who are excited about this new operating system and inquiring as to how things will behave when using their Plugable USB graphics device(s) with Microsoft’s new flagship OS. The purpose of this post is to provide some “best practices” guidance regarding Windows 10 and installation of Plugable’s docking stations and USB graphics adapters.

Most of the Plugable support crew are seasoned IT/support veterans, and as such we’re a cautious bunch when it comes to immediately migrating to a new operating system. (See here for our take on installing Windows 10 as soon as it’s available. The nutshell version is that as with any major OS upgrade, we suggest waiting a bit before installing on any mission-critical systems while initial issues are discovered are worked through.)

That being said, we realize, with all the excitement surrounding the upcoming release many users are going to want to dive right in. With that, here are our recommendations for how to approach different installation scenarios as well as some additional information about Windows 10:

Scenario 1: Upgrading to Windows 10 from an existing Windows 7/8 system
Scenario 2: Performing a “fresh” (non-upgrade) installation of Windows 10
Scenario 3: USB graphics not working after upgrading to Windows 10

Additional Information
Windows 10 Graphics Overview
Potential Issues
Feedback and Support

Scenario 1: Upgrading to Windows 10 from an existing Windows 7/8 system

This is likely to be the most common scenario for the majority of users. Please note that all previous DisplayLink drivers are not compatible with Windows 10. As such, we suggest the following steps for an upgrade installation of Windows 10:

  • Disconnect your Plugable docking station or graphics adapter(s). They will remain disconnected until prompted to plug the device back in.
  • Go to “Programs” and uninstall both the “DisplayLink Core Software” and “DisplayLink Graphics”.
  • Start the Windows 10 installation.
  • Grab a cup of coffee or a cold beverage, this will take an hour or so.
  • After Windows 10 has finished installing, run Windows Update. (Start button > Settings > Update). This is critical, as your system may be missing various drivers after installation.
  • After running Windows Update and rebooting, run Windows Update again. Repeat this process until there are no new updates found.
  • Download and install the latest DisplayLink drivers we recommend here. (Note: Your docking station or USB graphics adapter should still be disconnected!)
  • During installation of the DisplayLink drivers, you will be prompted to connect your USB graphics device/docking station. Do so when prompted.
  • After connecting your device, your displays will likely flash several times as everything is detected. You will be prompted for a reboot. Do so.
  • After rebooting, things should be working as expected; any additional displays should be active, and Ethernet/audio should be active if using a docking station.

Scenario 2: You’re doing a “fresh” (non-upgrade) installation of Windows 10

  • Disconnect your Plugable docking station or graphics adapter(s) prior to starting the install. Keep the device(s) disconnected until prompted to plug it back in.
  • Start the Windows 10 installation by booting from your installation DVD or flash drive.
  • Grab a cup of coffee or a cold beverage.
  • After Windows 10 has finished installing, run Windows Update (Start button > Settings > Update & security). This is critical, as your system may be missing various drivers after installation.
  • After you’ve run Windows Update and rebooted, run Windows Update again. Repeat this process until there are no new updates found.
  • Download and install the DisplayLink drivers we recommend here.
  • During installation of the DisplayLink drivers, you will be prompted to connect your USB graphics device/docking station. Do so when prompted.
  • After connecting your device, your displays will likely flash several times as everything is detected.
  • You will be prompted for a reboot. Do so, even if things appear to be working.
  • After rebooting, things should be functioning as expected; any additional displays should be active, and Ethernet/audio should be active if using a docking station.

Scenario 3: Windows 10 was installed with a docking station or USB graphics devices attached and/or previous DisplayLink drivers installed, and things aren’t working after the upgrade

Background

Some will wonder why there might be issues using USB graphics with Windows 10 when these same USB devices generally work quite well with Windows 7 and Windows 8. The primary reason is Windows 10 introduces a new driver model (WDDM 2.0) for the graphics chips in PCs that are responsible for outputting video (known as GPUs).

The primary GPU and its drivers play a key role in the functionality of USB graphics, as the DisplayLink software interacts heavily with these drivers to enable graphical output via USB. Simply put, both the GPU drivers and DisplayLink drivers need to function together seamlessly for everything to work as it should.

So when Microsoft introduces a new graphics driver model such as WDDM 2.0, GPU manufacturers such as AMD, Intel, and Nvidia must update their drivers to support this new model, and so must DisplayLink. This shift to a new driver model generally enables better performance in the long term, but early in the release cycle, issues/bugs can appear that were not present in previous operating systems.

Potential Issues

Updated 6/26/16: We’re happy to report that most of the challenges covered in this list are no longer relevant thanks to the diligent work of DisplayLink, Microsoft, and others updating their respective software to improve performance and stability over the past year.

For the most part, we’ve had positive results testing our Plugable USB docking stations and graphics adapters with the final release build of Windows 10. We have encountered a few occasional issues which we’re documenting below:

  • On the Surface 3 (non-Pro), DisplayLink installation can cause a lock-up/black screen to occur, requiring the Surface 3 to be forced off by holding the power button for ~10 seconds. Updating to the newest Intel graphics driver prior to installing DisplayLink drivers seems to drastically improve this behavior.
  • Some systems will exhibit display corruption or artifacting when waking from sleep mode. Unplugging and replugging the USB graphics devices usually resolves the issue.
  • Upon resuming from system sleep mode, windows/applications will occasionally be positioned on the wrong display and/or be rendered larger or smaller than expected. A monitor/TV which is turned on from a previously “off” state can cause this behavior as well.Note: This issue is reproducible on traditional graphics cards (“GPUs”) on some displays, therefor it appears to be a Windows issue rather than an issue related to DisplayLink.
  • If a DisplayLink device is connected to the system without first installing the DisplayLink drivers, Windows will silently attempt to update the drivers via Windows Update. Often this will take between one and five minutes, while the user is given little or no indication that this is happening. If the DisplayLink device is unplugged during this process, the installation is silently terminated, and will not automatically resume, even if Windows Update is run manually. If your device is not working, the best steps will be to run the DisplayLink cleaner software and reinstall using the process outlined above in Scenario 3.
  • On some systems, performance of USB-attached displays may be slow when operating in “clam-shell” mode with the laptop lid shut. This appears to be a bug in the “Intel Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework” (DPTF) driver which was also present for some users on Windows 8/8.1. As Windows 10 does not allow this driver to be disabled in the operating system, the best current workarounds are to use your system with the lid open, or disable DPTF in the UEFI system firmware. (Your system manufacturer may be the best resource for walking you through disabling the device in firmware, though if you’re a Plugable customer we’ll attempt to help provide steps for this process.)
  • Though it’s touched on above, Windows Updates are key. Microsoft released multiple substantial “Cumulative Update for Windows 10” Updates, which have helped with various issues.
  • In some cases, if you had previously made a change in the Windows audio settings regarding the “Preferred Playback Device”, these changes may need to be reapplied after driver installation.
  • In a few reported cases, Kaspersky Internet Security software is blocking the installation of the DisplayLink Ethernet Adapter driver needed in our docking stations. The workaround is to completely remove the Kaspersky Internet Security software and then follow the instructions from scenario 3 above to perform a clean install to resole the issue. Once the driver is installed the Kaspersky software can be re-installed
  • DisplayLink has released an important driver update (version 7.9M5) and all Windows 10 users are strongly encouraged to update to this version. Note: All of the links in this article have been updated to point to this newer driver.

DisplayLink also has a list of known issues they’re tracking here.

Feedback and Support

As always, we welcome comments and feedback below. Since we’re so early in the life cycle of Windows 10, if you encounter any consistently unexpected behavior, we encourage you to post details on DisplayLink’s Windows 10 forum as well, as they are tracking issues that require further investigation.

If you’re a user of a Plugable USB graphics device and are experiencing issues, we’re here to help! If support is needed, please run our PlugDebug tool found here to collect system logs, and send the resulting file to support@plugable.com along with a description of the behavior you’re experiencing and any additional details you feel are relevant.

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