Microsoft Revamps Mobile Broadband in Windows 10

Posted on April 25, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Windows 10 with 15 Comments

Microsoft is releasing a new Redstone 5 build to Insiders in Skip Ahead today. The new build of Windows 10 changes the way Windows provides Mobile Broadband functionality for devices such as the Surface Pro LTE. The build, 17655, is introducing a new Mobile Broadband USB class driver based on the new NetAdapter framework in Windows. The new NetAdapter network stack is supposed to offer more reliable network connectivity in Windows, and the new Mobile Broadband USB class driver is a part of Microsoft’s efforts to improve network connectivity in the OS.

The new Mobile Broadband interface isn’t enabled by default in the new build, and users will have to manually enable the new driver from Device Manager to actually make use of it. It’s interesting to see Microsoft giving Mobile Broadband a makeover in Redstone 5, as the company’s Surface team is expected to launch a new Andromeda device later this year which will run on Windows 10 and probably support LTE.

Along with the new Redstone 5 build, Microsoft is launching a new Edge DevTools app that lets developers use EdgeHTML’s developer tools for any site they want, without needing to use Edge. It also offers remote connectivity that will enable developers to debug web pages on headless IoT devices or devices such as the HoloLens from their computer.

You can find out more about the new Mobile Broadband driver, along with how to actually enable the new driver in the build 17655 here.

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Comments (18)

18 responses to “Microsoft Revamps Mobile Broadband in Windows 10”

  1. Elindalyne

    But edge dev tools kinda suck...

  2. NoFlames

    I prefer edge over chrome, and I find the built in tools sufficient for my work.

    • IanYates82

      In reply to NoFlames:

      The article reads like you could use Edge debugging tools to debug an issue in Chrome.


      That's not really what this is about. Rather it's about debugging PWAs, Cortana, Office, or other apps that embed an instance of the Edge HTML engine. It's also a revamp of their ability to support network debugging of these same things - you wouldn't want to debug an issue in a PWA on a Hololens (the PWA may have a special mode for the Hololens so you want to run the app on there but wouldn't want to debug on there).


      The Chrome dev tools do use some sort of open protocol and it sounds like Microsoft is moving that way. A year or two ago Microsoft offered som ability to expose Edge (or was it IE?) as a thing that could be debugged using the Chrome dev tools. I suspect this is building upon that same base.

  3. Daekar

    So... in what context is mobile broadband a significant part of Windows? I mean... who is going to pay for a SIM for their laptop when they can just tether their phone?

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to Daekar:

      The world is moving inexorably towards greater connectivity. As for why someone would want a connected laptop, the reasons are varied: doesn't drain your phone battery; depending on hardware it can provide a faster connection than tethering; is more or less instant; allows for background tasks that rely on connectivity such as file sync, app updates, notifications that make computing more seamless; some people have phone plans that don't allow tethering; some people will be reimbursed by their employer or will write it off in their taxes; some people will have family plans that allow them to add connected devices for what they consider a reasonable cost (often $10/month now, but this will likely drop in the near future as carriers compete for consumers in an age of increasing connected devices); in the not too distant future 5G will allow for an even greater range of cloud-based computing on the go, and some of these will still work better with a laptop form factor. Again, this is inevitably the direction things are going. It wasn't really that long ago when people asked why you would want or need a WiFi antenna in your laptop. Or why you would need more than a few GB of RAM. Hell, there was a time not long ago when people said no one would pay for a data plan for their phone. But things progress. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    • wright_is

      In reply to Daekar:

      Most business contracts over here offer 2 or 3 SIMs and it is much quicker and easier to use the SIM plugged into my ThinkPad than it is to have to get my phone out, unlock it, go into setting, go into mobile, turn on tethering, go to my ThinkPad, connect to the new Wi-Fi access point...

      I can also call and surf at the same time, which tethering doesn't offer.

      • Chris_Kez

        In reply to wright_is:

        Good point about the surfing and talking at the same time (though I think this is possible on some networks). The multitude of reasons, needs, use cases have all been thoroughly covered and shouldn't be hard to imagine for anyone who can see a little bit beyond their own current (and often narrow) usage. It's one thing to say "the current value proposition isn't appealing enough for me invest/adopt", but I grow tired of the version that goes "Why would anyone ever do XYZ?". I'd like to think we'll soon turn the corner on needing to answer this question.

        I'm not hopeful though, because people are still asking "why would anyone ever want a Chromebook"? Again, the benefits-- such as they are-- have been clearly articulated over and over again. It is instantly familiar and intuitive to the huge number of people that use Chrome every day; it is dead simple to set up and to refresh; it is cheap; it covers the most common needs of common consumers (aka "normals"); etc.; etc. Is it a good fit for everyone? No!!! But again, at this point everyone should be aware enough of the stated value proposition and the pro's and con's that we shouldn't have to literally re-state what those are every few weeks.

        • SvenJ

          In reply to Chris_Kez: The good news is that people do get the benefit. People asked for LTE capable Surfaces, Tablets, etc., they exist, and people buy them. The cost can be offset by the convenience, and in some cases the additional cost can be zero. My GoogleFi data SIM cost me nothing to have, and no more to use than if I tethered. I'm excited to see what they have done with my LTE Surface 3.


  4. warren

    NetAdapter isn't new, it was introduced more than a year ago. Hardware manufacturers are already starting to write Ethernet drivers for it.

  5. Tony Barrett

    I can only imagine MS are doing this because they think this will be the 'future' of Windows - Win10S (or whatever) running 'always on' on ARM devices with nice big fat mobile data plans to keep providers happy while MS slurp up the data via another route. Let's just agree - barely anyone asked for it, even less will use it, and Microsoft's ARM experiment (RTv2) will fail.. again.

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