Windows 10 bug crashes your laptop when you open and close the lid — really

Windows 10
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The latest problem to strike Windows 10 is a new issue that causes Desktop Windows Manager (DWM) to stop responding when a laptop lid is opened and closed repeatedly, or the laptop is docked and undocked multiple times. As a result, laptops are crashing unexpectedly. 

According to Microsoft Support, "This problem occurs because of an issue in the Microsoft DirectX Video Memory Management (Dxgmms2.sys) component." The documentation also indicates that this is tied to a bug in the Microsoft DirectX Video Memory Management software, and not a hardware problem.

Under certain circumstances, the repeated opening and closing, or docking and undocking of a laptop when paired with external monitors, will cause the Desktop Windows Manager (DWM.exe) process to stop responding.

Desktop Windows Manager is the software that supports adding monitors, adjusting the display for different resolutions, handling visual effects for desktop activities and managing desktop activity across multiple screens. Bugs in this software can result in everything from improperly sized icons to full system crashes that require restarting the system entirely.

Microsoft has identified two scenarios that trigger this Desktop Windows Manager bug:

Scenario 1

You plug a High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) monitor into a laptop computer that is running Windows 10.

The monitor is configured to operate at 4K resolution.

You repeatedly play a 4K H264 video in Movies & TV on the computer.

In Control Panel, you open the Advanced settings screen of the Power Options item, and then you set Lid close action as Do nothing.

While the 4K video is playing back, you repeatedly close and open the computer lid.

Scenario 2

You connect two 4K monitors to a Thunderbolt 3 docking station.

You connect a laptop that has a 4K solution monitor to the docking station, and then you configure a triple 4K display configuration in either "clone" or "extend" mode.

You repeatedly undock and redock the laptop.

What to do if you're affected

In either of these situations, the back and forth switching between monitors and the laptop seems to trigger problems in the DWM.exe process.

Microsoft is working on a fix for this issue. In the meantime, the simplest solution is to avoid unnecessary lid closures or undockings, and reboot the system to return to normal functioning if a problem is encountered.

Brian Westover

Brian Westover is currently Lead Analyst, PCs and Hardware at PCMag. Until recently, however, he was Senior Editor at Tom's Guide, where he led the site's TV coverage for several years, reviewing scores of sets and writing about everything from 8K to HDR to HDMI 2.1. He also put his computing knowledge to good use by reviewing many PCs and Mac devices, and also led our router and home networking coverage. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he wrote for TopTenReviews and PCMag.