Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Windows 8 and flaky wifi drivers

I worked with 2 laptops with Windows 8:

- 5+ year old high-end HP laptop DV9620us
- 2 year old Lenovo T420s

One thing that amazed with Windows 8 is how flaky Wifi was for me, in both cases. The worst case is with my HP laptop, but even the Lenovo laptop had issues from time to time.

What happens basically is this: either blue screen of death (BSOD) or the wifi just stops working, which requires a reboot to get it to work again. Sometimes it stops working minutes after a reboot.

I investigated the HP case further. It has a Intel 4965AGN adapter. As it turns out, Intel decided not to support this adapter (among others) on Windows 8. Microsoft provides an driver for it, but that is the drive with the flaky behavior as I mentioned above. Lots of people are having the same issue - and apparently not only with this Intel adapter, but with other as well. Some report that they have to disable 802.11N to get it to be more stable, others tried different techniques (like installing Windows 7 drivers) to get it to work.

I'm amazed that the support for the wifi adapter is dropped, but I'm more amazed that a driver is released by Microsoft that doesn't work properly. Now what can the owners do? I wonder if Intel could open up the spec and allow someone to develop an open source driver for Windows.
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