Friday, September 28, 2012

Windows 8 - Fifth Pass: Wireless Network Management

The other night in a hotel room, I stumbled across another “I can’t believe they removed that!” issue with Windows 8. This one has to do with managing your wireless network connections. I wanted to remove an old wireless network connection and in Windows 7 you could easily see a list of all the wireless networks you had previously connected to, their priority, what kind of security they had, and of course their name. This was often helpful if you ended up with duplicates of the same one or wanted to remove all but the most recent connection. It was also useful if you wanted to set the priority for one network over another. This was done from a shortcut in the Network and Sharing Center called Manage Wireless Networks.

No such thing exists in Windows 8. Microsoft believes that Windows 8 can manage this list and prioritize multiple connections automatically much better than you can manually. They also don’t care that you might not want your home connection to be named Network 3 and might want to delete Network 1 and Network 2 and then rename Network 3 to just plain Network. They don’t care about any of that as they removed a valid and very useful feature.

There is of course a rather cumbersome work around if for whatever reason you want to edit your wireless network connection list.

The easiest way is to use the ‘netsh’ command from the command line. Run the command line as the administrator and enter ‘netsh wlan show profiles’. This will show you all of your wireless connection profiles. The simplest thing to do is just to delete the one you don’t want by typing ‘netsh wlan delete profile “SSID-name”’. You can also enter ‘ALL’ instead of the name if you want to flush them all. More details can be found by entering ‘netsh /?’.

You may find that one or more of your profiles can’t be deleted and will always appear in the show list. To remove any stubborn profiles turn your wireless radios off, then reboot, and remove the profiles while the wireless radios are still off and not connected to anything.

Of course, if that’s too difficult Microsoft has provided a harder way.
  1. Turn on View Hidden Files and Folders. 
  2. Browse to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Wlansvc\Profiles\Interfaces\ 
  3. You will find a list of XLM files with GUID names; open each XML file using Notepad to see which connection profile it is. 
  4. To delete one just delete that XML file. To change the name edit the XML file however if you want to rename a newer profile the same name as an older profile you must first find the older profile XML file and delete it before you rename the newer one. 
  5. Now locate the same ‘Network GUID’ in the following regkey HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WLansvc\Interfaces\[Interface GUID]\Profiles 
  6. Delete this as well 
I had to restart to make the show list refresh and any updated names to appear in Network Connections. Simple, right? It’s always nice when technology advances forward and makes things that were easy and accessible more difficult.