[German]Brief info in the round of the owners of HP Windows PCs to a problem and immediately the question whether someone is affected. On these computers there are problems since a short time, the taskbar freezes under Windows, the Explorer crashes with errors or the whole Windows PC does not react anymore. It looks like the driver "HP Development Company, L.P. – Extension" is causing the problem.
HP desktops: Explorer/Taskbar issues
German blog reader Friedrich S. just contacted me via email because he ran into the problem at a customer's site. Here is his brief description of the problems:
A customer with various HP Deskpro PCs running Windows 10 21H2 (64 bit) has these PCs freezing. Explorer errors occur (since Friday 27.05.2022).
These PCs are not in the domain at the customer. The PCs are only used for RDP sessions. The problem also occurs when no RDP session is started.
Friedrich S. then also emailed me a link to the HP forum post Taskbar freezes/unresponsive, explorer crashes and restarts – recent HP drivers might be the fault from May 30, 2022 (thanks for that). There another user also describes the error pattern and gives concrete hints about the cause. Windows 10 21H2 in the 64 bit version is also used there. The error pattern is described like this:
We have several HP desktops, all are 2-3 year old, all are G5 or G4 models, all are running Windows 10 Pro 64bit Version 21H2.
In the last couple of weeks all are developing exactly the same problem –
Even when not in use the taskbar becomes unresponsive and freezes – even the clock on the taskbar stops moving. When you click on one of the programs in the taskbar it does not open and at this point Windows Explorer service crashes and restarts by itself thus the taskbar returns to function.
None of the open programs is affected and continues to run in the background. Another way to solve this is in the "Services" to 'end task' "Windows Explorer" and to lunch a new "Explorer" task instead.
This problem persists and can happen over and over again in the same day without any notice.
On the HP desktops of the G4 and G5 models, there are Explorer crashes and the taskbar has also freezes. Running programs continue to run in the background.
Repair attempts failed
The affected person then tried various repair attempts on the affected HP desktop systems. The first thing tried was whether updating Windows 10 21H2 via Windows Update as well as updating the system via HP Support Assistant would help. This was just as unsuccessful as updating the Microsoft Store. Checking the system with sfc /scannow as well as DISM /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth as outlined in the blog post Check and repair Windows system files and component store did not help either. The only remedy in these cases is to shut down Explorer via Task Manager and restart it.
Error caused by HP driver?
The affected person writes in the HP forum that he has probably narrowed down the problem on all HP desktop systems. On all computers, the following drivers had been installed via Windows Update shortly before the problems appeared:
- HP Development Company, L.P. – SoftwareComponent – 188.8.131.52156
- HP Development Company, L.P. – Extension – 184.108.40.206686
The person concerned cannot uninstall these drivers and asks what purpose they serve. I had already reported in 2020 in the blog post Windows 10: Update installs mysterious HP Inc. driver about the installation of such mysterious drivers, which then show up under Windows Update if necessary (like the system driver shown below).
All these drivers have in common that they appear abruptly on HP devices, cannot be suppressed and occasionally cause real trouble under Windows 10. German blog reader Markus has described it a bit more here (translated):
A device HWID ACPI\HPIC0003 or ACPI\HPIC000C is created via the firmware of the HP device, so that Windows 10 then installs the associated drivers.
In addition, he writes that one can usually disable this feature on business devices (e.g. HP Prodesk) in the firmware ("HP Application Driver" option). This option seems to be missing on consumer devices.
Whether this is related to the function I described in the German blog post Backdoor 'Windows Platform Binary Table' (WPBT), I can't say. But there are also many complains about thouse HP drivers installed in Windows 10 within the comments of my English blog post Windows 10: Update installs mysterious HP Inc. driver too. Microsoft provides also downloads of older HP Development Company, L.P. drivers within the Microsoft Update Catalog.
Markus recommends to generally block the installation of drivers for the mentioned device IDs under Windows 10 in enterprise environments via group policies (GPO). At the colleagues of deskmodder.de I found this German forum thread from 2018, where the GPOs could not prevent these updates. Finally, the question: are any of you aware of what the drivers do? Are there others affected that run into problems with the above drivers on Windows 10 21H2?
Cookies helps to fund this blog: Cookie settings