Windows 8.1 Wireless networking 101


Updated: August 23, 2014


Note: Later Windows updates may solve some of the issues presented here!

Writing about an operating system that I seriously do not like is called philanthropy. I want to help stranded, clueless, unhappy people who are forced to live with Windows 8.1 on a daily basis, to make their experience that much less sucky. And one of the suckiest aspects of Windows 8.1 is networking, Wireless in particular.

User's ability to make changes have gone from geeky but intuitive to moderately stupid in Windows 7 to plain insane in Windows 8, as I will soon demonstrate. Once, you could just make your own rules and whatnot, but then Homegroups were invented and they introduced mandatory IPv6 connectivity, and now something even worse. Welcome to Dedoimedo's Wireless networking 101 crash course for Windows 8.1, which will hopefully make your pain go away.

Establish a new connection

This is your first step. Almost. If you recall my VivoBook review, I had problems connecting to one of the access points using Windows 8. An upgrade of the Wireless driver solved it. Therefore, if you hit a situation where you can't connect to your access points, perhaps the first thing you ought to consider is updating the drivers. Windows Update first, followed by a download directly from the vendor's site. You will need a wired network to do that, of course.

Start new Wireless connection Cannot connect

Once upon a time

After you've connected to a new network, you will have to classify it, to decide whether it's private or public. In Windows 7, classifying a network is a relatively simple thing and it works like this:

Network setup

Password

Private versus Public

In Windows 8, it's different. The old concept of networks classified as home and work and public is gone. Instead, you will simply decide whether to use file and printer sharing, or not. You must use a firewall to make this effective. This is an important bit, so make sure you mark it correctly.

Set access point type

Sharing

Normally, on private network, you ought to be able to share your data and stuff. However, Windows 8 expects Homegroups by defaults, either one created by itself, or others that it may join. Now, if you block IPv6, or do not have IPv6-capable devices, you will not be able to do this, at all. Therefore, you might have to use a classic sharing with accounts to get the right permissions in place. This has been a problem ever since Windows 7 was released to the market. To wit:

Issues

This is how you do it. In the Control Panel, go to Network and Sharing Center, Advanced sharing settings. Under HomeGroup connections, toggle Use user accounts and passwords to connect to other computers. If you have the right credentials, e.g. Everyone, then you will be able to connect to remote shares very easily.

Sharing

Delete an access point

This seems to be the trickiest of them all. While you could do it perfectly well in Windows XP and Windows 7 using GUI tools, not anymore. The latest and would-be friendliest Metro Windows actually forces you to use the command line to manage access points. Believe it or not, that stupid. No problem with command line, but then, if so, the whole game changes.

All right. Start your menu, and you'd better be using Classic Shell, then fire up cmd.exe. This is the command line thingie. There, we will run a few commands that will let us see and then delete our access points.

netsh wlan show profiles

Show profiles

Then, let's delete one of them. Now, why would you want to do that? Well, if you have another access point with the same name, or maybe the security key and whatnot has changed, and things aren't quite working as you expect them, you might want to start clean, fresh and exciting and reset the settings. Moreover, Windows might be getting confused, and flags your private networks as public ones or vice versa. So you want to wipe the slate clean and start over.

netsh wlan delete profile name=<name>

Delete Wireless profile

Conclusion

There you go, the most basic guide to some happy Wireless networking in Windows 8.X. It might not be easy or intuitive, and this tutorial only covers a small subset of problems, but it might help you get underway. At the very least, you know how to define and delete access points and configure classic sharing.

All in all, Windows 8.X is a regressive operating system in many aspects, Wireless networking being one of the more prominent ones. It is very hard finding your way around, even for skilled users, so you can imagine how an average consumer would feel like. Well, we might follow up with more advanced stuff, but it all depends on how the audience feels. No emails, no sequels. There we go.

Cheers.

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