My Wireless Router and Windows 8 can’t get along

Problem: Computers running Windows 8 can’t connect to my wireless network

Symptoms:

  1. 3/3 computers in my household running Windows 8 cannot connect to the wireless network. Ethernet still works.
  2. Some of my Win8 computers did connect properly for a month or so initially, but none work now
  3. When attempting to connect to the network, it will often get a “limited” connection (no internet) that drops in 30 seconds or less
  4. When mine is the only active device in the house, I can sometimes connect to the network. As soon as any others join, I get kicked off
  5. Devices running Android, iOS, Win7, or Win8 RT have no issues.
  6. The logs on my wireless router say [WLAN access rejected: incorrect security] from MAC address xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx, Saturday, June 29,2013 12:08:49

The Hunt:

My internet searches turned up a variety of possible issues. We stared with the good old “turn it off and back on again” — no luck. How about “assign a static IP”? Nope – the router assigns the ip and then rejects the WLAN access request anyway.
Okay… lets see what Microsoft has to say about “WLAN access rejected: incorrect security”. Hmm, this is interesting — “EDNS0 permits the use of larger User Datagram Protocol (UDP) packet sizes. However, some firewall programs may not permit UDP packets that are larger than 512 bytes. As a result, these DNS packets may be blocked by the firewall”. But it only acknowledges this issue for Windows Server, and I have Windows 8. Something to keep in mind, but not something I know how to work around.

I eventually ran into something that looked intriguing. “Disable WMM on your wireless router”. Apparently WMM (Wireless MultiMedia Extensions) prioritize traffic on your router based on the type of content you are trying to access (i.e. video streaming vs sending an email). This fits with my symptoms (getting constantly kicked off the network by other computers), so I tried turning it off. Voila, everything works!! Wow!

I’m still not totally sure why this works. My QoS packet scheduler thinks it is working (Network And Sharing Center -> Connections: Wi-Fi (Network name) -> Properties -> “This connection uses the following items”), but maybe it was sending “low priority” packets to the router? So WMM kicked me off whenever anyone else wanted a connection? Or maybe WMM regulates the UDP packet sizes, and was rejecting Win8 for its large packets? I really don’t know. But I do know that this worked, and I hope it helps you too!

How to Fix It:

If you need help getting to your router settings page, see this link. Once you are there, go to your Advanced Wireless Settings page and look for a checkbox for WMM. On my Comcast Netgear router, it looks like this:
Advanced Wireless Settings Page

Uncheck that box, and you should be golden. 🙂

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