Doesn’t sound good: Windows 7 RC network problems

Posted: June 13, 2009 in science & technology

Everyone is raving about Windows 7; I myself didn’t test it for very long – because it never connected to my network. I shrugged it off as a beta problem and installed Ubuntu instead, but I certainly did not expect possibly encountering network problems again. Well, Angus Kidman from Lifehacker did just that (see below).

Originally, I wanted to give Micro$oft the benefit of doubt and actually buy a .0 version of its OS – I’ve changed my mind already.

windows7errorThere’s a prevailing opinion that Windows 7 is a big improvement on Vista — but my own experience of the Windows 7 RC so far suggests that it can be just as bad, if not worse.

I’ve come to the RC late relative to its appearance, in large part because I was doing the Hand Luggage Only project during May and didn’t want to burden myself with an unsupported OS on the road, even in a dual-boot environment.

I’d been running the beta of Windows 7 on a spare machine, and had largely been impressed: it ran faster, seemed to have fixed some of Vista’s more egregious faults, and didn’t have a UAC implementation that made me want to throttle people. True, it wouldn’t actually let me submit any feedback, which didn’t bode well for online activation, and it had some problems with USB, but it was a beta after all.

For the RC release, I decided not to do the downgrade back to Vista on the same system, and instead opted for a clean install. I wanted to see how well Windows 7 would handle recognising an older machine from scratch. Sadly, the answer turned out to be “not well at all”. On a ThinkPad T61 — a machine that’s only a couple of years old– it came up with five unrecognised hardware items.

However, that wasn’t the biggest issue: networking was. My predominant complaint about Vista was its poor handling of wireless networking. My very first Vista machine had major wireless networking issues, and just in the last week I had to go through a convoluted correspondence with Microsoft to get my newest Vista box to successfully communicate with a bog-standard wireless router.

I’d had no problems connecting to my home network with the beta of Windows 7. However, once the RC was installed, it spectacularly failed to get any kind of working connection whatsoever, alternating between the familiar exclamation mark (meaning “you’re screwed”) and no connectivity indicator at all (meaning “you’re screwed, but hopefully you won’t notice”). All this was on a router with which I’ve successfully hooked up not only the Windows 7 beta, but Vista, Xandros and iPod Touch devices as well. Even when connected directly via an Ethernet cable, it refused to talk, suggesting that Windows 7 sometimes effectively treats a working networking stack as its own personal slaughterhouse.

I’ve never been a fan of the Vista “diganose” feature, but compared to Windows 7, it’s starting to look like a mine of information. After grinding away for some time , Windows 7 simply said “Troubleshooting couldn’t identify the problem” — despite that bright yellow exclamation mark. Even Vista had the manners to suggest resetting the wireless card or getting a new IP address might help, even if it rarely did.

One swallow does not a summer make, and I realise plenty of people have managed to get Windows 7 to connect to wireless and wired networks without a moment’s pause. But the fact that the RC — which is meant to be much closer to shipping code — has lost the plot so badly in my case with a fresh install suggests to me that the honeymoon might not even last until the October release date. Frankly, the idea that you should never use the .0 release of a product sounds more appealing than ever right now.


  1. DG says:

    When you installed Win 7 beta over vista, it might have used vista’s/XP old existing drivers for the hardware devices which didnt come with Win 7 . But, when you did a clean install, it was left with no choice instead displaying an exclamation mark on the devices it cant find drivers. So you may need to install the device drivers for those specific products from their corresponding websites.

    • isiria says:

      thanks for that. it was a clean install coz i would never even have touched vista ;). and therefore i didn’t think about looking for vista device drivers – good point; would have been worth trying. now i’m running ubuntu on that machine which makes me happy enough not to give it another go with win7 rc.

  2. Michael says:

    Slam the RC all you want regarding the networking issues. Clean install like the previous poster mentioned wipes all pre-existing drivers. I’ve downloaded the Linksys Vista driver on a clean install of 7 RC and had no issues connecting to multiple routers. For someone with the audacity to knock the RC like you have and force people to imply your level of technical experience forces me to conclude that you’re arrogant and inexperienced. Do Windows users a favor and buy a Mac so we don’t have to listen to your ranting any longer.

    • isiria says:

      how abt some anger management? 😉

    • Scott says:

      I bought a new copy of the 3 user license to replace XP with, not that I have any issue with XP, but since I had so many network problems with Vista, I thought,well they must have resolved all of that with Windows 7… so the saga is like this:

      Backup XP, wipe it out, install windows 7 upgrade (wierd to remove to upgrade, but whatever)

      AS soon as the pretty interface comes up, the network issues begin.. It will not remain connected for more than 10 minutes without having to troubleshoot. It seems they spent more time on slicking up vista than they did under the hood, if you ask me. I did exactly what I know better than doing, “trust that they are better now”.. I fear I wasted $124.00 at Costco for the 3 user license, as I may not even give the other 2 licenses a chance. As for using the old vista drivers… Hmm Hey M$, why don’t you include those with the new OS.. dorks indeed.. Back to my other computer with Ubuntu on it.. even when I have problems on that, within a day or two the updates fix it.. and the Ubuntu community does not ignore the problem nor do they pass the buck onto the manufacturer..

      Yea, I’m an M$ basher, but I have been an M$ user since MSDOS 1.0 having moved off of CP/M and PCDOS. I’ve seen every single OS ground breaking that M$ has been responsible for and, unfortunately, each of there blunders.. I can tell you this one is appearing to be an extension of the Millineum-Vista blunder…

      Have a good day!

  3. Jason says:

    Whatever, I’ve run the Beta and the RC and I am always having issues with the wireless and sometimes the wired. I know what i’m doing since i’ve been doing it for quite some time… when windows connects to my NETWORK, but then utterly fails to realize that there is an internet out there when ALLLLLLLL my XP machines don’t seem to have any difficulty connecting then what do you look at? The Router because windows 7 says “look… reset your router”… knowing that the router is working fine? (thank someone that i’ve got more than one computer or i’d be pulling the plug on the router seven to eight more times praying this time it will work…)

    Beta would find it… and then “not identify” it… and surely we can’t allow you to get to an internet we can’t identify…

    When did TCP/IP become so complicated? Get an IP, DHCP gives ya a few configs… then poof yer good… talk to the DNS server and get to… its NOT that difficult… somehow W7 does it.

    The worst… W7 wouldn’t find my wired OR wireless networks from a clean install (RC) found a post were the user disabled both nic’s and then ran the trouble shooter… it found both of them and started working great… (huh?) it had FOUND them before and got IP addys… but wouldn’t let me connect to the internet… after that process it did? ok so all good right… I do the windows updates… thinking… all is good right? if its an update they prolly fixed something since its still not released…

    POOF… additional driver updates for my network components… no more internet connectivity – is it ROCKET science? I’ve been connecting to the inetnet with windows since v3.1… and a 3rd party PPP stack… what are they IMPROVING??!?!

    So tired of it… If it doesn’t get fixed its gonna suck doing my job as the poor SOB’s who take thier laptops home definitely don’t have the time or patience to figure out why thier computer doesn’t do what it was meant to do out of the box but only because of some crappy network app writing.


  4. Mike P says:

    When I first got my new Netbook (hey, I needed a new mobile computing option and Windows 7 seemed like a good idea at the time), it worked flawlessly – I was impressed by how quick it was.
    Hotel I was at had network issues (I thought it might be the Netbook, but their laptop couldn’t connect, neither could my PocketPC on WM6). One physical reboot of the router and, hoorah, connections for all!
    Got home on Friday last and connected to my router on the second attempt (the first time I couldn’t remember the security key – doh!).
    Worked fine until yesterday. Windows 7 suddenly decided it couldn’t identify the network (despite showing the SSID and all the diagnostic readouts telling me it was all fine except the “There was a problem” and “Windows could not identify the problem”.
    So, I tried rebooting the router. No.
    Reset & re-configure the router. No.
    Connect with wire. Yes – a one-time only deal that has never worked agian!
    Hmm, lets’s try my mother’s XP laptop and my Pocket PC – ooh, they work fine.
    So, after checking every setting on the system, including the looking through all the detailed diagnostic information (which seems to say that everything worked – except that it then, well, didn’t!) I decided to restore the system to Factory Settings. It was late and I was out of patience.
    Started the restore, surfed on my XP machine to find some answers. Finished the restore, completed the First-time setup (just like last week). And it…. didn’t work.
    I’ve just tried the suggestion above of uninstalling the network adapter (reboot & allow to reinstall). No dice, doesn’t work.
    It’s not the router (although Windows keeps suggesting that!) and it’s not the wireless NIC (how else would the diagnostic information find, detect, connect and fail to hold on to my router).
    At some point, Windows simply decides that it can’t be bothered and I’m at my wits end. I’m about to phone the store’s Tech Support, an action I undertake with great loathing as they will probably suggest many of the steps I have already taken, along with suggesting that I may not know what I am doing. Which I do – seeing as how my job is to do over-the-phone networking support for students… some of which have encountered a strikingly similar issue…

    • Mike P says:

      In an update to what is possibly the most baffling case of computer craziness I’ve seen in a while…

      After going through everything from a simple disconnect/reconnect to a complete Factory Reset of both the Netbook and Router, I decided to phone Tech Support.

      My misgivings were validated when the first guy said “Sorry, as the product is less than a year old you need to speak to the manufacturer”. So why did they tell me to phone my retailer not 5 minutes earlier?
      Meh… try again.
      Called up a second time and this guy was really helpful, although was having trouble following the problem because he was as confused as me.
      He put me through to 2nd Level Support who then were extremely helpful and did a remote link (over ethernet, through the same router) to my Netbook – even though that isn’t technically part of my Service Agreement. (Shhh!)

      After trying everything, we (together, since Windows 7 doesn’t allow remote access to do certain things, like typing in some boxes… weird!) removed the security from the wireless network – and removed the connection from the Windows-stored list.
      What the heck?!?!? It worked!!
      Then we put a basic key back in and, again, it worked!

      So, I’ve removed the key, put in another secure key (test used 12345678 – not exactly ‘secure’, is it?) and it’s all working fine.

      I am, right this minute, carrying this Netbook through to the kitchen so I can make a coffee… Woohoo!!

      Mike P.

      PS Any thoughts as to WHY this worked when even Factory Resets of both devices didn’t?

      • obxpete says:

        Mike P.

        Can I trouble you to elaborate on “removed the security from the wireless network – and removed the connection from the Windows-stored list.” ?

        The Secure Key business too, please. Thanks,
        – Pete

  5. Margherita says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more… about not using the .0 release… I’ve upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 7, thought I’d be clever and be one step ahead of the pack…. oh boy!!! What a huge mistake!

    I’m ever so sorry I did it.

    I cannot do a search for anything on our company’s local network, as a matter of fact: there is no search engine anymore.

    Everything gets Indexed, but the problem is that it’s not picking up the network to index it.

    Their new Sync Centre does not work at all either. Just picked that up today. It shows you that your files are in sync, but it’s not.

    You cannot get any kind of desktop search toolbar to work to search stuff.

    In my opinion Windows 7 is a huge stuff up, especially for peeps working on a network.

    And to top it all off, there is no one that can help me, not our IT company, noboby from Microsoft (that I know of) either…

    It’s like you have to go and study IT to get anything done these days.

    I hope things will improve ASAP. In the mean time things are taking me 6 times longer than they used to … I miss having my old OS. Searches were much faster then. So, basically for the time you save on the operating speed, you loose it on finding stuff. 😦

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