A new Windows 11 (opens in new tab) issue has come to light which sees users of Intel Smart Sound Technology presented with a blue screen - recently switched back from black to the traditional color - thanks to a driver incompatibility. Affected systems running Windows 10 will no longer be able to upgrade to Windows 11, according to a Microsoft ‘known issues and notifications’ article (opens in new tab) reported by Bleeping Computer (opens in new tab).
The driver at fault is IntcAudioBus.sys with a file version earlier than 10.29.0.5152 or 10.30.0.5152. In Device Manager it has the name “Intel® Smart Sound Technology (Intel® SST) Audio Controller”. The device in question (opens in new tab) is a digital signal processor that works alongside Core and Atom processors to handle voice commands and play back music without draining the battery. It’s not to be confused with the other Intel SST, or Speed Select Technology (opens in new tab), which lets servers match their clock speed to their workload.
The 'fix' is to update the driver to a newer version. Just to make things more complicated, the 10.30.x versions are not newer than the 10.29.x versions, and upgrading may depend on your PC’s manufacturer offering the update. After the update is complete, the compatibility hold on upgrading should be lifted.
The news comes as a recent Insider build (22000.346) of 11 saw the formerly-black screen of death restored to the resplendent blue we all know and love. The build notes (opens in new tab) for the release blandly announce the change, but give no insight into why.