A2DP on Windows 7

When I bought a pair of bluetooth stereo headphones, I wanted to make sure they would work on Windows 7, however when I searched for A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile – the protocol for streaming stereo audio to a bluetooth device), I mostly found posts relating to how A2DP support was missing from Windows 7 RTM.

So when I bought a bluetooth dongle, I went ahead and immediately installed the ancient version of BlueSoleil that came with it. This is an awful piece of software, but it does get your headphones working. However, I started getting random blue-screens which identified BlueSoleil as the culprit. So I investigated my options:

– Install the latest version of BlueSoleil, and provided no further blue-screens occur within the trial period, buy it 🙁
– Install the Toshiba bluetooth stack, and buy if it does the job.
– Remove all 3rd party bluetooth software and try the Microsoft one.

I tried the toshiba bluetooth stack and the audio randomly cut out every few 1 or 2 seconds. So don’t bother with that.
Not wanting to pay for crap software, and spurred on by seeing mention that an update for A2DP support in Windows 7 was pushed out, I decided to give the Microsoft stack a go. Uninstalled Toshiba and Bluesoleil software, then after re-enabling the ‘Bluetooth Support Service’, my headphones were promptly discovered and connected. Audio quality is perfect (no drop-outs), and no need for any 3rd party software.

So, if you’re using Windows 7, don’t bother with BlueSoleil or Toshiba, stick with the Microsoft bluetooth stack.

‘Bluetooth Settings’ link missing in Windows 7 Control Panel

When attempting to add (pair) a new bluetooth device, if no devices are detected it may be that the ‘Bluetooth Support Service‘ is disabled or stopped. Check this by going to:

Start->Run->compmgmt.msc->Services and Applications->Services

Make sure the status for service ‘Bluetooth Support Service’ is ‘Started’ and the startup type is ‘Automatic’. After starting this service, you should now be able to add bluetooth devices to Windows. Starting this service also enables display of the bluetooth settings dialog, which the Windows help points out should be visible in the Control Panel when you search for ‘bluetooth’. Another symptom that this service is not running is that when you right-click the bluetooth system tray icon and choose ‘settings’, nothing happens (i.e. no dialog appears).

To Microsoft: Surely it would have been simple to check whether this service is running before doing bluetooth device discovery or opening the settings dialog, and at least report to the user that they need to start the service (or do it for them ideally) rather than just failing silently.