Microsoft Is Finally Bringing Wi-Fi 7 Support To Windows 11

Key Points

  • Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 26063 brings Wi-Fi 7 support to the Windows 11 24H2 OS; expected to be released later this year.
  • To use Wi-Fi 7 today, you must have the supported hardware (network card and access point), and Windows 11 Build 26063 (or above) available on the Canary channel.
  • Wi-Fi 7 (IEEE 802.11be) provides Extremely High Throughput; almost 4 times the speeds of Wi-Fi 6 and 6E.

Microsoft has finally included the Wi-Fi 7 (IEEE 802.11be) support in Windows 11. At the moment, this support has been added to the Windows Insider Canary channel with Build 26063.

Wi-Fi 7, better known as the IEEE 802.11be wireless standard with Extremely High Throughput (EHT), is a relatively new communication standard defined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). This standard offers almost 4 times the speeds of Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, allowing end consumers to ramp up their internet usage and indulge in seamless online connectivity.

Microsoft is planning to introduce Wi-Fi 7 support to Windows 11 for all consumers with the feature update expected to release later this year: Windows 11 version 24H2.

Although the hardware that supports Wi-Fi 7 has been rolling out to the market for the last few months, which includes both wireless network cards for PCs and access points, Windows users could not benefit from it since the operating system lacked support. With this Insider release, Windows 11 users can benefit from the speedy internet speeds.

Wi-Fi 7 performance comparison

Wi-Fi 7 offers multi-gigabyte internet speeds; up to 2.4 times throughput speeds compared to Wi-Fi 6E, and around 4.8 times compared to Wi-Fi 6. The max theoretical data rate for Wi-Fi 7 is around 46.1 Gbps, and it has a maximum channel bandwidth of 320 MHz, as opposed to 160 MHz channel bandwidth for Wi-Fi 6. With these numbers, it makes Wi-Fi 7 almost 6 times faster than Wi-Fi 5.

Moreover, Wi-Fi 7 also works across three bands, i.e. 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz, whereas the previous standards only offered the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands.

Wi-Fi 7 relies on the IEEE 802.11be standard, which enables Extremely High Throughput (EHT) and offers almost 100 times lower latency than the Wi-Fi 6 standard.

Wi-Fi 7 uses Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM), which are radio frequency waves that send and receive data. The higher the modulation, the greater its ability to transmit information. Wi-Fi 7 supports 4K-QAM (4096-QAM) modulation, which increases the data transmission by 20% and improves the quality of video streaming, video conferencing, etc., significantly.

With these advancements, perhaps the most significant one is Multi-Link Operation (MLO). This is a feature that allows Wi-Fi 7-supported devices to establish connections with other devices on multiple channels at the same time, across different bands as well. Therefore, Wi-Fi 7 does not only have wider channels but also has the capability of using multiple channels at the same time.

How to use Wi-Fi 7 right now

To be able to use Wi-Fi 7, you must first make sure that you have the supported hardware. This means that both your wireless router/access point and the wireless network card on your PC must support Wi-Fi 7.

At the moment, only the latest hardware supports Wi-Fi 7, since the technology is new. If you recently purchased a high-end laptop or an access point, the chances of it supporting Wi-Fi 7 are likely.

If both your hardware support Wi-Fi 7, then you must install the Windows 11 24H2 Build 26063 available on the Canary channel to use Wi-Fi 7.

To start, here are the steps to check which Wi-Fi standards your network card supports:

  1. Press the Windows key + R to open the Run Command box.

  2. Type in “devmgmt.msc” and press Enter to launch the Device Manager.

  3. Expand “Network Adapters.”

    Expand Network Adapters
    Expand Network Adapters
  4. You will find the supported Wi-Fi standard in the name of the wireless network adapter name, as in this image:

    Find supported Wi-Fi standard from Device Manager
    Find supported Wi-Fi standards from Device Manager
  5. Now use this table to compare which IEEE Wi-Fi standard is associated with which non-technical term:

    IEEE Wi-Fi StandardAlliance Name
    802.11aWi-Fi 1
    802.11bWi-Fi 2
    802.11gWi-Fi 3
    802.11nWi-Fi 4
    802.11acWi-Fi 5
    802.11axWi-Fi 6
    802.11be Wi-Fi 7
    Different Wi-Fi standards against names

Once you have confirmed that your PC’s hardware supports W-Fi 7, you must check the same with your router/access point. To check whether your access point supports Wi-Fi 7, connect the PC to the wireless network and perform these steps:

  1. Press the Windows key + R to open the Run Command box.

  2. Type in “cmd” and press enter to open the Command Prompt.

  3. Run the following command:

    netsh wlan show drivers
  4. Look for the Wi-Fi standard(s) defined in the “Radio types supported” field.

    Check access point supported Wi Fi standards from Command Prompt
    Check access point supported Wi-Fi standards from Command Prompt

Using the table given above again, you check whether the Wi-Fi standards for the access point include Wi-Fi 7 or not.

If both hardware supports Wi-Fi 7, then you can install Windows 11 Build 26063 on your PC to try out Wi-Fi 7’s lightning-fast speeds today. Here is how:

  1. On a Windows 11 PC, open the Settings app by pressing the Windows key + i.

  2. Click “Windows Update” on the left.

  3. Then click “Windows Insider Program“.

    Open Windows Insider Program settings
    Open Windows Insider Program settings
  4. Click “Get Started“.

    Get started with Windows Insider Program
    Get started with the Windows Insider Program
  5. Click “Link an account“.

    Link a Microsoft account
    Link a Microsoft account
  6. Now log in with the Microsoft account registered with the Windows Insider Program.

  7. Next, select Canary and click Continue.

    Select the Canary channel
    Select the Canary channel
  8. Click Continue twice to confirm.

  9. Click “Restart now“.

  10. Once the computer restarts, return to the “Windows Updates” settings page and click “Check for updates“.

    Check for updates on Windows 11
    Check for updates on Windows 11
  11. Install any pending updates, which should include Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 26063, and restart the PC again to finalize the installation.

  12. Once rebooted, run the following command in the Command Prompt to confirm that you are on Build 26063.

    WinVer
    Windows 11 Build 26063 installed with Wi Fi 7 support
    Windows 11 Build 26063 installed with Wi-Fi 7 support

After performing the steps above, connect to the wireless access point, and then go to Settings > Network & internet > Wi-FI > Wi-Fi Properties. On this page, you shall find the Protocol being used is Wi-Fi 7.

Wi Fi settings showing a Windows PC connected to the Wi Fi 7 access point
Settings show a Windows 11 PC connected to a Wi-Fi 7 AP. Source: Microsoft

Conclusion

Wi-Fi 7 is a promising development for internet consumers. Almost all devices today include Wi-Fi capabilities. With time, it is expected that the hardware that supports Wi-Fi 7 will become widely available, and may even become a standard across all PCs, therefore making it more affordable.

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Subhan Zafar is an established IT professional with interests in Windows and Server infrastructure testing and research, and is currently working with Itechtics as a research consultant. He has studied Electrical Engineering and is also certified by Huawei (HCNA & HCNP Routing and Switching).

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