A Fix for WiFi and/or Lync drop-outs in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 (Preview)

Running Windows 8.1 on a Laptop or tablet and your WiFi sucks? Can’t maintain a stable Lync or Skype connection and OneDrive syncing doesn’t work very well? Then I might just have the workaround that you won’t find anywhere else.

Regular readers (and there have been over 222K of you so far – thanks!) will be aware of this article that I wrote in Dec 2013 for those having issues getting their new Christmas present connected to a WiFi network. This is a replacement article – because Intel has now issued a driver that appears to fix all of those issues.

For those readers who are NOT having WiFi connectivity issues currently, it is probably best to leave things as they are – don’t fix things that are not broken etc – but for those who are troubled by random disconnects or applications that drop the connection – and I am referring to you Microsoft Lync – read on:

There are two parts to this – because there are two separate issues that can combine to deliver the same symptoms, so you need to attend to one or the other or both:

PC running Windows 8.1 (or later – including Windows 10)

Check to see if the WiFi chipset in your PC (most probably a laptop, Notebook or tablet) is made by Intel:

  1. Control Panel -> Device Manager -> Network Adapters
  2. Right Click the WiFi network -> Properties -> Driver tab

IF your WiFi device is a 6 or 7 series – see article tags for full list – (in the illustration above, a 6 series 6235) and you haven’t updated the drivers, then you should.

This is because, Windows 8 shipped with Intel driver 14.8.8.75 for the 6 and 7 series Intel WiFi chipsets and it was good and worked just fine. Unfortunately, when Windows 8.1 Released to Manufacturing (RTM’d) it contained Intel WiFi driver 15.10.0.12 as the default (broken) driver and it wasn’t possible to downgrade back to the previously stable driver 14.8.8.75.

Intel then released various updated WiFi drivers for Windows 8.1, the most stable (of a bad bunch) being 15.10.5.1 – but it still didn’t cut the mustard – evidenced by over 1131 posts on the subject at Intel’s Community site .

HOWEVER, Intel now seems to finally have nailed the problems in an updated driver set 17.0.1

Note 1: Intel has a rather strange driver versioning scheme in which a driver set has a version number (in this case 17.0.1) but that set contains individually versioned drivers for the different chipsets that it installs on. So in the illustration above, driver set 17.0.1 actually installed Intel driver 15.14.0.2 on my Intel WiFi chipset N6235.

Note 2: Download and install Wireless_17.1.0_De132.exe if you have a 32bit version of Windows and Wireless_17.1.0_De164.exe if you have a 64bit version (Control Panel -> System will tell you which version you have) as the two other downloads presented at that link contain the full Intel ProSet software package – which is probably only needed if you are into Miracast and hey, let’s walk before we can run …..

Note 3: Once you have installed the 17.0.1 driver set, hit the Advanced tab:

  1. Control Panel -> Device Manager -> Network Adapters
     
  2. Right Click the WiFi network -> Properties -> Advanced tab

And set the following:

AD-Hoc QOS Mode: WMM enabled

Roaming aggressiveness: Lowest

Mixed Mode protection: CTS-to-self enabled

Then, in the Power Management tab, turn off “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save Power”

 

Applications dropping out (particularly Lync) when connected to a WiFi network

There is a technology/protocol called UPnP that is supported by most home Broadband/ADSL/WiFi routers (look it up if you want more info).

Most routers run a variant of Linux – and in particular, a router optimised module called Busybox.

There seems to be a bug in a number of versions of Busybox, which cause it to crash/hang/reboot if overwhelmed with UPnP port requests.

This crash/hang/reboot is imperceptible to users of that routers WiFi network EXCEPT for those apps which require continuous real-time network connectivity, like Lync and Skype etc – for which the internet connection appears to have dropped until Busybox in the router can recover itself.

This issue has been more prevalent with Windows 8.1 onwards – because it seems that something in the UPnP calls it makes to the router is causing this issue. This means that ANY Windows 8.1 PC connected to your network could be causing the problem if you have a router running a version of Busybox that is susceptible.

We know that routers which are affected are (at least):

Plusnet, BE, Zen, Andrews and Arnold, O2,TalkTalk and other UK ISP’s Technicolor TG582N

 

Virgin Media (UK) Superhub

 

Orange/EE Broadband Brightbox (AKA the Arcadyan AR7516)

 

If you turn off UPnP on other routers and find that it improves stability, please tell me, and I can add them to the list here:

Windows 8.1 WiFi works fine without having to turn UPnP off with:

Netgear DG834G V4 with  V5.01.16 – DGTeam Rev. 1018 firmware

Applications over WiFi like Lync and Skype work fine when UPnP is turned off  with:

Technicolor TG582N Connect with a web browser (by default, to 192.168.1.1 - but your configuration may vary) and disable by clicking “Game & Application Sharingin the toolbox menu and under “Universal Plug and Play” there should be a checkbox to enable/disable UPnP.

Virgin Media (UK) Superhub – Don’t know how to disable it, as I haven’t got one – but it should be listed in the web interface somewhere.

Orange/EE Broadband Brightbox - From the web interface, select “Advanced setup” and UPnP is a menu item on the left hand side.

© Woody – November 2014

[This article is original work – over which I own and retain copyright. However, it is based on multiple documentary sources placed in the public domain and I acknowledge and thank all the folk who have contributed to that (and in particular, Damian who beta tested the updates for me).

You are welcome to use and otherwise republish this article as you will – but I just request that you continue to attribute me as the original author.

Thanks.]


BT line with Caller ID/Display? Your bill is about to increase – as BT slides a cheeky price increase (from 4th Jan 2014) under the radar…

So, I have a BT line with “Caller ID” – AKA “Caller Display”, you know, the BT Calling “Feature” that shows that your mother-in-law is calling the telephone number of the person calling you.

imageUp until now, BT Caller Display has been free – as long as you make at least two “chargeable or inclusive” calls a month – otherwise a £2.00 a month charge applies.

However, did you know that from 4th January 2014, this previously free service will cost you an extra £1.75 per month?

You may not have been unduly concerned as you poked around in BT’s completely obfuscated and impenetrable website, because it clearly says here “BT Privacy with Caller Display will cost £1.75 a month from 4 January 2014, but existing customers of the service can pre-register to continue getting it free for 12 months.

So that’s OK – quickly register for BT Privacy and neatly side step the £1.75 per month price increase then. Oh no … I didn’t use the word “obfuscated” for nothing!

Scroll right to the bottom of this page and open the section entitled “The legal stuff”. Now, scroll down to the paragraph that starts BT Privacy with Caller Display Free for 12 months and see that it is hiding this little gem “Pre-register before 6th December 2013”.

So you did pre-register before 6th December 2013 for your BT Privacy with Caller Display Free for 12 months didn’t you?

If, by now, you are as annoyed as me by what I consider to be a hidden con, then you may just be looking for a new supplier for your phone line…

There are hundreds of suppliers out there – so you can do your own homework, but having two telephone lines, one already with Plusnet Broadband on it and the other that just needs to be a (now non-BT grrr…) phone line only, I went off and did a comparison. This revealed that I should swap one line (the line that already has my Plusnet broadband) to Plusnet and the voice only phone line to Madasafish.

Feel free to use this table to plug in your own figures:

 

BT

Plusnet

Madasafish

Line Rental (per month)

£15.99

£14.50

£11.99

Caller Display

£1.75

£0.99

£0.99

Unlimited Anytime calls

£7.00

£5.00

£5.00

Monthly Total (if paying line rental monthly)

£24.74

£20.49

£17.98

 

 

 

 

Line Rental Saver (pay 12 months in advance)

£141 pa (£11.75 pm)

£131.88 pa (£10.99 pm)

N/A

Equivalent monthly total if purchasing Line Rental Saver.

£20.50

£16.98

N/A

Monthly total if adding Unlimited (up to) 16MB Broadband

£45.74

£22.99

Not an economic proposition

Monthly total if adding Unlimited (up to) 16MB Broadband and purchasing Line Rental Saver

£41.50

£19.48

 

Year 1 total cost

£435

£233.76

 

Year 2 total cost

£498

£323.64

 

Total over 2 years

£933

£557.4

 

Notes:

1. BT own Plusnet, who in turn own Madasafish. Plusnet have UK based 24/7 support and multiple awards.

2. It is not possible to purchase a phone only service from Plusnet.

3. While it is possible to purchase broadband from Madasafish – it is simply not an economic proposition but, weirdly, you do get 100MB of web space included – so may be useful for someone?

4. All figures include current offers: BT – half price broadband at £10.50 for first 6 months and £21.00 per month thereafter AND Plusnet – broadband at £2.50 for first 12 months and £9.99 per month thereafter.

A fix for connectivity issues with Intel Centrino WiFi and Windows 8/Windows 8.1 (trouble with the new laptop you got for Christmas?)

Updated 31st December 2013 based on personal testing, direct feedback as a result of this article and the conversation on the Intel Wireless Networking Community (67 pages about this problem so far …) here.

image

Purchasers of Laptops with Intel WiFi adapters seem to have been having a hard time of it lately and have been reporting one of more of the following issues:

On upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, their WiFi no longer works or has become unreliable.

and/or

Even on Windows 8 (yet to upgrade to Windows 8.1) their WiFi connection is unreliable – or doesn’t work at all – see the protests at the Intel Support Community web site.

and/or

With Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, folk experience various application hangs or failures – like the new (to Windows 8) IE11 hangs or appears to mis-render pages and Lync and Outlook appear to hang or lose connectivity.

If you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms, do this:

a) It is generally held that the most stable Intel Centrino WiFi driver for Windows 8 is version 14.8.8.75. This is the base driver that comes in the box with Windows 8, so if you are still on Windows 8 (as opposed to 8.1) roll back your Intel WiFi driver to 14.8.8.75.

b) If that doesn’t work, or you are already on Windows 8.1:

1. Control Panel –> Programs and Features and REMOVE any Intel® PROSet/Wireless Software but DO NOT  remove anything that says it is Intel® PROSet/Wireless Software for BLUETOOTH® technology

AND

2. UPDATE your Intel WiFi driver to 15.10.5.1 for Windows 8 or 15.10.5.1 for Windows 8.1.

IMPORTANT: ONLY install the updated drivers and NOT the full Intel® PROSet/Wireless Software – so only download and install the file that is:

Wireless_16.7.0_De164.exe for 64bit Windows 8.1
Wireless_16.7.0_De132.exe for 32bit Windows 8.1

Wireless_16.7.0_De64.exe for 64bit Windows 8
Wireless_16.7.0_De32.exe for 32bit Windows 8

[The “D” in the driver name, stands for “Drivers only” – and no, I haven’t the faintest idea why Intel should publish a driver update with a version of 16.7.0 which installs a driver version 15.10.5.1 …]

AND

3. Once the driver version 15.10.5.1 is installed and the PC has been re-booted, Control Panel –> Device Manager –>  Intel(R) Centrino(R) Advanced-N 6235 –> Properties –> Power Management and REMOVE the tick from the “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power” checkbox:

image

c) If you still experience problems once you have upgraded your WiFi drivers, then try the Intel WiDi Update Tool.

WiDi is Intel’s implementation of Miracast – which allows mobile PC screens to be Download WiDi Tool Imageprojected wirelessly, via WiFi, to a suitably Miracast enabled display. Miracast requires the correct combination of Screen drivers, WiFi drivers and supporting software, so this is a good tool to run to ensure that you have all the correct drivers loaded for your particular laptop.

So, none of that worked?

OK, roll your sleeves up for this – but it’s not for the feint hearted:

Testing with friends and colleagues has now conclusively proved that some Broadband Routers with WiFi can hang and lose connectivity with Windows 8/8.1 devices if they have UPnP switched on (which is the default for most routers). To the laptop user, this router hang will appear as a local WiFi problem – i.e. the laptop user will think they have a problem with their Laptop Intel WiFi – when it is actually the router that you are connected to that has the problem.

Switching OFF UPnP on affected routers has a very high probability of fixing your WiFi network dropout/hang issue and to date, I haven’t found any adverse effects (Xbox gaming e.t.c. still seems to work fine with UPnP switched off).

Unfortunately, you will have to work out how to switch off UPnP for your particular router by reading its manual I am afraid, but I can tell you that testing so far indicates that the following routers hang with Windows 8/8.1 if UPnP is left turned on:

Plusnet, BE, Zen, Andrews and Arnold, O2,TalkTalk and other UK ISP’s Technicolor TG582N

image

Virgin Media (UK) Superhub

image

Orange/EE Broadband Brightbox (AKA the Arcadyan AR7516)

image

No, I have no idea what it is about Windows 8/8.1 which is causing a problem with UPnP in some routers – but I will update this article.

If you turn off UPnP on other routers and find that it improves stability, please tell me, and I can add them to the list here:

Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 WiFi works fine without having to turn UPnP off with:

Netgear DG834G V4 with  V5.01.16 – DGTeam Rev. 1018 firmware

Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 WiFi works fine when UPnP is turned off  with:

Technicolor TG582Ndisable by clicking “Game & Application Sharing” in the toolbox menu and under “Universal Plug and Play” there should be a checkbox to enable/disable UPnP.

Virgin Media (UK) Superhub

Orange/EE Broadband Brightbox

-

A fix for when Windows 8.1 (RT) and Server 2012 R2 December 2013 update rollup (KB2903939) fails to install

image

On 12th December 2013, Microsoft released Windows RT 8.1, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2 update rollup: December 2013 – KB2903939 which will be offered to most folk via Windows Update.

There are reports that this update is failing with neither the Windows Update troubleshooter or the alternative DISM.exe /online /cleanup-image /restore health e.t.c. (that the troubleshooter suggests as an alternate approach) fixing the problem.

All the usual caveats apply – so don’t sue me … but if you are similarly affected, try this:

1. Download KB2903939 as a standalone from here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=41294 (if you have a 32bit – X86 install, you need this instead)

2. Actually download BOTH the subsequently offered Windows8.1-KB2903939-x64.msu AND Windows8.1-KB2911134-x64.msu

3. Run Windows8.1-KB2911134-x64.msu – (but NOT Windows8.1-KB2903939-x64.msu)

4. Spin up Powershell (type “Powershell” in an admin DOS cmd prompt).

5. In the Powershell prompt, run each of these commands:

set-service trustedinstaller -startuptype Disabled

reg load HKLM\COMPONENTS $env:windir\system32\config\COMPONENTS

Remove-Item -Path HKLM:\Components\DerivedData\VersionedIndex\* -Recurse

reg unload HKLM\COMPONENTS

set-service trustedinstaller -startuptype Automatic

6. Run Windows8.1-KB2903939-x64.msu (that you downloaded in step 2)

7. Restart – when prompted.

How to reliably connect a monitor that has a DVI input (like a Dell U2412M) to HDMI

I wrote in Asus Zenbook UX31A (or any Intel HD4000/HDMI graphics) fix for no HDMI output to an external monitor in Windows 8 (should work for Windows 7) about a technique for connecting the DVI port of a monitor to HDMI output from a PC with Intel HD4000 graphics.

In that article I alluded to a potential problem in the way the Intel HD4000 chipset implements HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection).

I now know, through buying and experimenting with different cables and HDMI/DVI adapters, that I was wrong….

I have tested the following recommended components on the (micro) HDMI output of both a Microsoft Surface RT and an Asus Zenbook UX31A and the results are repeatable – in that no other cables/adapters (that I have purchased thus far) work – apart from the following:

If you want to reliably connect the DVI port of a monitor – and in particular, a Dell U2412M, to micro or regular sized HDMI, you need one of these:

image

This is the HD-9002 “DVI-D Male to HDMI Female Adaptor / Convertor – 24+1 Pins – PC Card to HDMI TV” from Cabling4Less.co.uk – which at the time of writing, is £2.49 inclusive of delivery from their eBay listing or £4.80 from their Cabling4Less website.

While you can see (obviously) that this is a male DVI connector, what is not so obvious, is that the other end of this adapter is a female full size HDMI socket – for connecting to an HDMI or micro HDMI cable of your choice.

Now, while the Cabling4Less adapter did the trick with a number of HDMI cables I imagetried, an honourable mention must go to the “Premium 1.5m Gold Micro HDMI Cable to Connect Amazon Kindle Fire HD to TV LCD” from juicebitz for £3.85 delivered.

Not only does the quality of manufacture seem to be a cut above most cables (juicebitz say that they manufacture the cables themselves) but it has immediately removed the little one pixel sized random green dots that I used to get in dark areas of photos with other cables I used.

Asus Zenbook UX31A (or any Intel HD4000/HDMI graphics) Black Screen in Windows 8 workaround (should work for Windows 7)

This is Part 1 of a two part article – only separated to make it easier for those with this particular problem to search for this.

This is a very niche article, I grant you, but of you are reading it, chances are, you have this problem and while my experience is specifically with the Asus Zenbook UX31A, searching the internet reveals that it seems to be a common and generic problem with Intel HD4000 graphics.

The Problem:

Randomly (it’s not reliably reproducible) you boot your PC or return from sleep or hibernation and you are presented with just a black screen. Hitting the power button for a hard reboot doesn’t help, you just get booted back up into a black screen.

The Explanation:

I am indebted to Seth Eliot for pointing out, that when you have a black screen, this is normally because the PC is outputting a display on the (micro) HDMI port – even though you don’t have a screen connected to the HDMI port. Worse than that, the HD4000 graphics seem to have made your non-existent HDMI monitor the default display.

The Workaround:

imagePress the Windows Key and “P” together, followed by tapping the Up Arrow twice. This should select the projection screen dialogue (try it on your PC BEFORE you have this problem to simulate the action) and two presses should select “PC Screen only” and bring Windows back to your PC screen.

And if that doesn’t work?

Well, you could try turning it off and then back on again …….

Note: This is NOT a fix for the BLUE screen login problem – where you have the blue Windows login screen but no user/password box to allow you to login. I haven’t the faintest idea how to fix that!

Asus Zenbook UX31A (or any Intel HD4000/HDMI graphics) fix for no HDMI output to an external monitor in Windows 8 (should work for Windows 7)

This is Part 2 of a two part article – only separated to make it easier for those with this particular problem to search for this.

This is a very niche article, I grant you, but of you are reading it, chances are, you have this problem – and while my experience is specifically with the Asus Zenbook UX31A, searching the internet reveals that it seems to be a common and generic problem with Intel HD4000 graphics and HDMI output to an external monitor.

The Problem:

The internet is awash with folk having problems getting any output from the micro-HDMI port on their Intel HD4000 graphics chipset PC’s – and this includes the Asus Zenbook UX31A, as this thread on the Intel Community site attests.

I have the problem myself, in that I found it impossible to drive a Dell monitor in extended mode via the micro-HDMI (most Zenbook UX31A users would use the micro VGA dongle – so wouldn’t come across this problem, but those who, ahem, have lost their VGA dongle are now forced to go the micro-HDMI route….).

I am therefore indebted to Cognus who has written this article over at Eightforums, which seems to suggest that the problem is fundamentally due to a chipset design error in the way Intel implements HDCP and it is probably not possible to fix it via a driver update. This has enabled me (via trial and error) to develop a repeatable process which will, if a little inelegant, drive an external monitor via (micro) HDMI.

The (temporary) fix:

Presuming that the screen is working on your Intel HD4000 laptop, here are some pictures of the technique I use to get the micro HDMI to output to an external monitor:

1. In Windows Device Manager, right click Intel® HD Graphics 4000, select “Properties” and then select the “Driver” tab:

image

2. Click the “Uninstall” button and be sure to select the “Delete the driver software for this device” checkbox:

image

3. You will then see that your display device completely disappears from the list of devices:

image

4. Select the top item in the device list (which will have the name of your PC) and in the Action drop-down, select “Scan for hardware changes”:

image

5. At this point, there will be a bit of screen flashing and your external (micro) HDMI monitor should spring into life. You will also note that Windows has detected your HD4000 graphics display, but has installed its default driver:

image

6. Keep the faith, because very quickly, Windows seems to decide that that is not the right driver, and automatically installs Intel driver version 9.17.10.2932:

image

7. Hit “Restart later” – because you are going to need to repeat this process every time you can’t get an external monitor to work via HDMI – so there is no point in restarting and putting you back to square one:

image

Of course, if anyone has a better process (I have tried the latest Intel V9.17.10.2875.01 video drivers – and it doesn’t make any difference) please do comment.

Malware Hunting and Windows Troubleshooting with Mark Russinovich and Microsoft Sysinternals tools

Mark Russinovich is a Microsoft teWindows Sysinternalschnical fellow, who a few of my, ahem, more mature readership will remember from his Winternals Windows tools company – which turned into Windows Sysinternals when Microsoft bought his company and hired Mark.

Mark is a an easy to follow and very engaging presenter who delivered two great sessions at TechED 2013 US:

Case of the Unexplained 2013: Windows Troubleshooting with Mark Russinovich

In which Mark walks you “step-by-step through how he has solved seemingly unsolvable system and application problems on Windows.

With all new real case studies, Mark shows how to apply the Microsoft Debugging Tools and his own Sysinternals tools, including Process Explorer, Process Monitor, to solve system crashes, process hangs, security vulnerabilities, DLL conflicts, permissions problems, registry misconfiguration, network hangs, and file system issues.

License to Kill: Malware Hunting with the Sysinternals Tools

Mark delivers “an overview of several Sysinternals tools, including Process Monitor, Process Explorer, and Autoruns, focusing on the features useful for malware analysis and removal.

These utilities enable deep inspection and control of processes, file system and registry activity, and autostart execution points. You will see demos for their malware-hunting capabilities through several real-world cases that used the tools to identify and clean malware, and conclude by performing a live analysis of a Stuxnet infection’s system impact.

—–

If you want to increase your skills at troubleshooting Windows issues or you are currently fighting a virus/malware infection (or not even sure if you have a malware or virus infection) then these videos are very good use of your time – and of course, the whole plethora of Windows Sysinternals tools are well worth evaluating.

Note: These videos are available for download – you don’t have to only watch them streaming. No need for get_iplayer and therefore Microsoft 1, BBC Nil…

Install Windows 8 or Windows 7 from a bootable USB memory stick using the Microsoft Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool

 This article has been updated 03/08/2013 – because Microsoft had moved the download page again…..

image

If you search around the internet, you will find all sorts of tools and tips for how to install Windows 8 (or Windows 7) without a DVD drive – but I prefer to stick with the tool from the folk who created Windows 8 – presuming that they must know something about how to do it ….

Just go to the “Microsoft Store” here:

clip_image001

and download Microsoft’s handy Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool.

The Microsoft Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool Tool will create a bootable USB memory stick containing everything you need to install Windows 8 (or Windows 7) from either a downloaded ISO or DVD.

How to do things that you can't find info about anywhere else

GripDev

Code, Apps and Thoughts @lawrencegripper

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