Microsoft Surface users complain of Wi-Fi problems

Users of Microsoft's Surface tablet are complaining about Wi-Fi connection dropping, poor signal strength and limited connectivity

Some users of Microsoft's new Surface tablet are complaining about connectivity issues that are preventing them from getting on the Internet, according to posts on Microsoft's Surface support forum.

Microsoft started shipping the tablet on Oct. 25 and the first complaints appeared two days later. The thread is now 16 pages long, with users saying Wi-Fi issues are causing disruptions to movie streams, file downloads and Web applications.

"My connection to the wifi network frequently and repeatedly goes 'limited'. If I reset the connection by turning on and off airplane mode it works again, but only for a short amount of time ... before I have to repeat the process again," wrote one user who goes by the name kjkeys88.

Another poster, EricLinneman, who said he is a senior consultant at Microsoft, also said his wireless connection was showing as "limited." Rebooting his tablet only temporary resolved the problem.

Some users thought the problem could be with their wireless router instead of the tablet, but EricLinneman wrote that the connectivity problems appeared to be consistent across different router brands. Other users said the problem was happening with their Surface tablet only, not their other wireless devices.

"I have the same issue. My iPad works just fine on the same network. And my wireless Xbox also works just fine. Only my new Surface has issue," wrote poster Brian Peal.

A forum moderator and Surface support engineer at Microsoft, Steven_B, wrote on Nov. 5 that Microsoft was investigating the issue.

"We're sorry to hear about the WiFi going into Limited connectivity and having poor signal strength. We are aware of the issue and are currently investigating the cause," wrote Steven_B on the board.

Microsoft declined to immediately comment on the issue Wednesday.

The problem is likely to be a software issue caused by buggy code or a driver conflict, according to Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal at ZK Research.

Limited connectivity was a problem with older Windows laptops, resulting from conflicting Wi-Fi drivers, Kerravala said. For example, a default Wi-Fi driver in Windows could conflict with the driver provided by a PC maker.

Microsoft now has to patch the Windows RT OS on the Surface tablet, Kerravala said.

"That's what Microsoft does, patch things," Kerravala said. "I'm sure they will."

He didn't think the issue would affect sales of the tablet.

Microsoft recently issued software updates for Windows RT and a firmware update for the Surface tablet. Microsoft said the update provides performance improvements, and did not mention any big fixes that it might address.

Users of Apple's iPad have also complained of Wi-Fi connectivity issues in the past, but they did not appear to affect sales of the device.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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