As a Windows Insider MVP, I’m a dedicated member of the Windows Insider program. Earlier this week, I noticed some “interesting behaviors” after installing the July 31 18950 Fast Ring build. On one of my test machines, the WiFi driver failed to load after the newly-installed build came up. On another test machine, several reports falsely indicated that it lacked Internet access, even though I could browse the web, send e-mail, and so forth. The only machine not so affected in my triumvirate of Fast Ring test machines is connected to the LAN — you guessed it! — though a built-in GbE (Gigabit Ethernet) connection, rather than wirelessly. Interestingly, today (August 7) a new Fast Ring Build 18956 showed up. I noticed a “Known Issues” item in the Release Notes reads “When connected via cellular, the Network status will be incorrect, but the device is able to use the connection.” I also noticed that this build includes what that same source identifies as “A redesigned Network Status page in Settings” within its “What’s new” coverage items.It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that MS is (and probably has been) messing with Win10 networking stuff. I’m pretty sure that’s what was behind the WiFi weirdness I witnessed in 18950.
Notice that all installed adapters appear — both (wired) Ethernet and WiFi — even though only Ethernet is currently active.
What Kinds of WiFi Weirdness, More Specifically?
On my desktop PC (i7-4770K on Asrock Z97 mobo), the ASUS PCE-AC56 802.11ac card installed therein was recognized. But for some reason, the OS (or the Windows Installer, more likely) didn’t load a driver for that device. Thus, when I logged into that machine after the first time I upgraded it from 18941, it could not connect to the network at all. Digging into Device Manager, it reported “A driver is not installed” in the properties window. Subsequent repair efforts convinced me that more was wrong with that install than networking. In fact, the PC ran much more slowly and sporadically than normal, numerous applications and apps were MIA, and it just didn’t work that well. So I used the Settings → Update & Security → Recovery → Go back to the previous version of Windows 10 option to roll back to the previous installation. When I tried the install again, it succeeded on the second try with a proper, working driver.
Then, I ran into the same phenomena I saw on my other WiFi test machine from the get-go (a Lenovo X220 Tablet with Sandy Bridge iy-2640M and Intel Centrino N 6205 WiFi adapter). Even though the PC was connected to the LAN and the Internet, both Network Settings and the notification bar showed the Globe symbol that stands for general networking, rather than either the little computer screen with cable icon for Ethernet or the WiFi logo that’s used to denote wireless networking. In addition, Network settings reported “No Internet connection.” Despite these red herrings, networking worked correctly on both systems. I was perfectly able to surf the web, send/receive email, and so forth and so on.
Thus, when I read about the changes to the Network Status info for 18956, the light bulb went off. I’m pleased to observe that both Ethernet and WiFi work (and look) normal in the latest 18956 build, even though WiFi got weird in 18950. Sometimes, it’s fun to see Microsoft change from one way of doing things to another, and watch those changes unfold. Other times — as when the first 18950 install attempt resulted in no networking capability — it’s rather more vexatious or painful than fun. So it goes, sometimes, for Windows Insiders.
Author: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.