Just under a month ago, Windows 8.1 Preview was released in beta for public testing. This meant that customers who had Microsoft Surface Pro tablets could download the new version of Windows for testing and try out the new software and performance tweaks Microsoft had rolled out.
Unfortunately, the release of Windows 8.1 Preview has not been without its hiccups. That being said, it WAS a beta release so teething problems were exactly what Microsoft expected. This is also why it’s a good idea to dual boot Windows 8 with Windows 8.1 on your Surface Pro so that your existing copy of Windows 8 stays intact and is separate from the upgraded ‘beta’ version of Windows.
Previously the biggest problem reported was that of antivirus software being incompatible with the new Windows 8.1 Preview release. However, recent reports point to a more crippling bug that’s affecting Wi-Fi connectivity. For anyone who uses their Surface Pro for web based work, this could spell disaster. Thankfully, there are a number of steps you can take to resolve this issue and get your Surface Pro’s Wi-Fi connectivity running smoothly again.
Method #1: Disable ‘Selective Suspend’
Selective suspend is a way of saving power. If a hardware device is left idling for long enough, the computer automatically reduces the power sent to that device which results in the device essentially ‘hibernating’. Disabling this option allows full power to be sent to the device at all times, but remember that it can negatively affect your battery life.
The problem you may be experiencing in Windows 8.1 is that the drivers are failing to execute the command that wakes your Wi-Fi receiver from selective suspension, thereby causing limited connectivity issues. Disabling it should therefore provide you with a much more stable connection.
How to disable selective suspend on your Surface Pro
Step 1. Swipe from the right edge of the screen to bring up Windows 8.1 Charms
Step 2. Select ‘Settings’
Step 3. Select ‘Control Panel’
Step 4. Select ‘Hardware and Sound’
Step 5. Select ‘Power Options’
Step 6. On your selected power plans, select ‘Change Plan Settings’
Step 7. Select ‘Advanced Power Settings’
Step 8. Expand ‘USB settings’
Step 9. Expand ‘USB selective suspend setting’
Step 10. Disable selective suspend.
That should help. You may also want to tweak your wireless router settings to use a single channel too as other devices have had Wi-Fi issues resolved through this simple method (In other words, turn off Wireless ‘N’ on your router). Unfortunately you’ll need to contact the router manufacturer or consult the router user manual to find out how you do this as it varies from one router to the next.
Method #2: Driver reinstallation.
Another way around the issue of poor or limited Wi-Fi connectivity is to simply uninstall the new drivers that come with Windows 8.1 Preview and reinstall the old drivers you once had before the upgrade.
How to Re-install old drivers
Step 1: Download the old Surface Pro driver from here and save file to desktop.
Step 2. Bring up Charms by swiping from the right edge of the screen
Step 3. Select the ‘Settings Charm’
Step 4. Select ‘Control Panel’
Step 5. Select ‘Hardware and Sound’
Step 6. Under ‘Devices and Printers’, select ‘Device Manager’.
Step 7. Expand ‘Network adapters’ and right click where it says ‘Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-N Network Controller’
Step 8. Select ‘Uninstall driver’ and reboot.
Step 9. Go back into device manager and you’ll see the wireless adapter being listed as a ‘problematic device’ with a yellow exclamation mark on it.
Step 10. Select the problematic device and then select ‘action’ from the device manager menu bar. Choose ‘Add Legacy Hardware’ from the dropdown menu.
Step 11. The ‘Add Hardware Wizard’ will take you through the steps and it will ask you how you want to install the driver. It usually says ‘How do you want to search for driver software’. Select ‘Browse my computer for driver software’. Navigate to your desktop and select the driver you downloaded and installed.
Method #3 – Re-enabling your wireless adapter.
Another issue being witnessed is that during the installation of Windows 8.1 preview, the network adapter is being somehow disabled and not being re-enabled. This could well be linked to selective suspend, but re-enabling it is easy enough.
How to re-enable the network adapter.
Step 1. Bring up Windows 8.1 charms by swiping from the right edge of your screen.
Step 2. Select ‘Control Panel’
Step 3. Select ‘Network and Internet’
Step 4. Select ‘Network and Sharing Center’
Step 5. Select ‘Change adapter settings’
Step 6. Double tap on your Wi-Fi connection and select ‘Enable’.
If this does not work, you’ll probably need to uninstall and re-install the drivers as highlighted in Method #2.
Method #4 – Flight Mode
This issue is not affecting every single Surface Pro user so sometimes, your limited connectivity can be fixed by simply disabling all connections and re-enabling them again. You do this by putting your device in ‘flight mode’ and disabling flight mode once again to see if that helps. As simple as it is, it could solve the issue you have and get you back online.
Step 1 – Bring up Windows 8.1 Charms
Step 2 – Select ‘Settings’
Step 3 – At the bottom you’ll see signal bars for your wireless connections. Select those.
Step 4 – This will bring up your wireless networks menu showing other networks your Surface can detect. Sweep the flight mode bar to the right to activate it.
Step 5 – Wait 30 seconds and disable flight mode by swiping in the opposite direction.
Those are the 4 methods we have that could help you solve your Surface Pro’s Windows 8.1 connectivity issues. The majority of them seem to be driver based, but some issues are solved by simply disabling all connections and re-enabling them. Whatever your issue is, it is our sincere hope that any one of these methods has helped resolve it.