The December 2023 Patch Tuesday update KB5033375 has been causing a lot of havoc for Windows 11 users, especially those in educational institutes and corporations. There have been a tonne of reports of users unable to connect to public and corporate Wi-Fi networks after installing either KB5033375 or KB5032288, which was last month’s optional update.
After a plethora of feedback from angry users, and even after some rollbacks, Microsoft finally commented on the issue and acknowledged the fact that the issue did exist, but they were unsure whether it occurred because of either one of the above-mentioned Windows updates.
At the time, this is what Microsoft had to say:
As reported, you are likely affected by this issue if you try to connect to a corporate, educational, or public Wi-Fi network with 802.1x authentication. This issue is unlikely to occur on home networks
The problem affected both Windows 11 versions 23H2 and 22H2, since the updates only applied to these versions in the first place. Additionally, as reported, corporate users or people trying to connect to public Wi-Fi devices encounter connectivity issues where they were unable to connect to a wireless network. However, regular home users were not affected by it.
Some universities even published posts about the issue and guided students to uninstall the update to fix the problem. Here is an excerpt of the post from the University of Brunel London:
If you have a Windows 10 or 11 laptop, and recently downloaded a Microsoft update, you may have difficulty accessing the WiFi on campus. If you have exams next week which require you to use your laptop on campus, please follow the instructions below to uninstall the update.
Please note this has only affected laptops not owned by the university (Bring Your Own Device).
Microsoft fixes Wi-Fi connectivity issue
After performing their due diligence, Microsoft has finally figured out the underlying issue causing the wireless connectivity issue. According to them, the issue lies within the 802.1x authentication mechanism, where the new Windows update, both KB5033375 and KB5032288, were unable to perform successfully.
This is what Microsoft had to say about the problem:
We have confirmed this issue was caused by KB5032288 and KB5033375. As reported, you are more likely to be affected by this issue if you are attempting to connect to an enterprise, education, or public Wi-Fi network using 802.1x authentication. This issue is not likely to occur on home networks.Microsoft confirms wi-fi issue
Since this issue has been identified, Microsoft has also fixed the problem. The fix has not been rolled out via another Windows update, or through a minor patch. Instead, Microsoft used the Known Issue Rollback (KIR) approach.
Known issue rollback is a Windows servicing mechanism by Microsoft, through which they can apply non-security bug fixes only. This allows them to revert targeted and single issues to apply a fix. This way, the users do not have to download or install a new update. This approach is perfect since the affected users probably cannot connect to the internet anyway.
When implementing a KIR, Microsoft makes a change in its cloud configuration. The devices connected through Windows Update or Windows Update for Business are notified of this change and takes effect after a system reboot. Therefore, the end-user doesn’t need to do anything to apply this fix but only restart their device. But note that this is only valid for home users.
Note: It can take up to 24 hours for the fix to propagate.
For managed, enterprise devices, a special Group Policy needs to be downloaded, applied, and configured, to apply the Known issue rollback. This gives the IT professionals of the enterprises control over when and how to apply the fix.
Click on the link below to download the policy:
After downloading the .MSI file, execute it. Once installed, open the Group Policy Editor, and you shall find the new policy at the following path:
Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > KB5032288 231029_032011 Known Issue Rollback > Windows 11, version 22H2
Once navigated to the path, double-click the policy and enable it to apply the fix.