Microsoft puts the 'why?' in Wi-Fi with latest Windows patch

Redmond stuffs IT admin Christmas stockings with network issues

Microsoft has broken Wi-Fi connectivity for some users with a recent Windows update.

At issue is the December 12 KB5033375 security update that included all the improvements from December 4's KB5032288 preview – including, it appears, Wi-Fi woes.

User are complaining on social media and Microsoft's own forums about the issue. The problem is with networks supporting the 802.11r fast roaming standard and devices with certain Qualcomm Wi-Fi adapters.

Microsoft has yet to formally acknowledge the issue, although it is reportedly aware of the problem. A number of organizations have instructed affected users to uninstall KB5033375 in order to deal with the issue. One user reported that disabling 802.11r allowed clients to return online.

Either approach is less than ideal. KB5033375 is a security update, so removing it could leave users exposed to other risks. Turning off 802.11r is a pain for users on the move since it allows continuous connectivity for wireless devices as they move from access point to access point.

Users have also reported problems with other hardware, including from MediaTek and Qualcomm. This indicates the issue is likely on the Windows side rather than on the part of hardware vendors.

Microsoft has a rich history when it comes to breaking Wi-Fi. In 2021, it had to hurry out an out-of-band fix after an error caused some devices to crash when attempting to access a Wi-Fi network secured with WPA3. Wi-Fi hotspots were broken by another update in 2022. So it's good to see Microsoft has managed to keep up its annual tradition of breaking Wi-Fi on Windows.

Brunel University, a UK institution, warned students last week that personal laptops running Windows 10 or 11 could be affected and advised the removal of the update if access to Wi-Fi on campus was needed. Its own devices are not affected.

The Register contacted Microsoft for its view of the situation and advice for affected users. We will update should the company respond. ®

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