As technology rapidly evolves, so does the need for hardware and software to keep pace. One such development in the connectivity space is Wi-Fi 7, the latest standard that promises superior wireless performance. However, if you’re hoping to take full advantage of Wi-Fi 7 while sticking with Windows 10, you might be out of luck.
The Intel Spec Sheet Conundrum
A month ago, speculation arose that Wi-Fi 7 support could be limited to Windows 11 and newer versions, based on a leaked Intel document. However, Intel later released spec sheets for its first Wi-Fi 7 modules (BE200 and BE202), which list support for both Windows 11 and Windows 10. Despite this, the details remain murky. The latest drivers from Intel do not yet support these modules, leaving questions about compatibility unanswered.
Limitations on Windows 10
Even though Intel officially listed Windows 10 as a supported OS for its new Wi-Fi 7 modules, full support on the older OS seems dubious. Notably, the BE200 and BE202 modules do not work with Wi-Fi 7’s ultra-wide 320MHz channel, limiting them to a highest listed frequency of 160MHz on the 6GHz band. This essentially means that these modules may not support extremely high throughputs (EHT) of 46Gbps.
The 6GHz Band Issue
Windows 10 is not known to support the 6GHz band that is part of the Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 standards. This is confirmed by both Intel and Netgear, who state that the latest Windows 11 release is required to access the 6GHz wireless band. Microsoft itself has announced that they will not be backporting 6GHz support to Windows 10.
Interestingly, an unofficial workaround discovered on Intel forums suggests that an older Wi-Fi driver version could potentially unblock the 6GHz limitation on Windows 10. However, this is not an official solution and could have other implications.
The Future of Wi-Fi 7 and Windows
With Wi-Fi 7-based routers expected to hit the market next year, this new technology could become a significant selling point for the next major Windows OS, currently referred to as “Windows 12” by the community. Given the limitations and lack of full support for Wi-Fi 7 on Windows 10, upgrading to a newer version of Windows may become inevitable for those wanting to take full advantage of the latest Wi-Fi technology.
Navigating the Connectivity Landscape
As we inch closer to the widespread adoption of Wi-Fi 7, the compatibility issues raise important considerations for users and enterprises alike. Whether you are planning a hardware upgrade or pondering an OS update, keeping an eye on these developments is crucial for making informed decisions.
For now, if Wi-Fi 7 is in your plans, it might be a good idea to also plan for an OS upgrade. Stay tuned for further updates on this evolving issue.