Updating Intel drivers

Subjects don't get much more boring than updating drivers. But, when it comes to Wi-Fi especially, it's worth a little of your time to verify that you have the most recent driver.

If your computer contains Intel Wi-Fi hardware, you can try their online wireless driver update utility. It checks your Wi-Fi hardware, and, if it's from Intel, reports whether you have the latest driver. The Windows-only utility runs under Internet Explorer as an ActiveX control or under Firefox as a Java applet.

I tried it on a ThinkPad T42 running Windows XP with Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG hardware.  

The Java applet, running under Firefox 3.5.2, reported "Non-Intel device detected. Please contact the device manufacturer for possible updates" (see below). This is wrong, the machine does have Intel Wi-Fi hardware.

Intel hardware not detected

In contrast, the ActiveX version of the utility, running under Internet Explorer 7, correctly detected the hardware and reported that the latest version of the driver was installed (see below).

Intel_wifi_driverupdate_activex_correct.jpg

Not sure if your laptop uses Intel wireless hardware? Then see Identify your Intel wireless adapter and driver version number.

Intel has similar utilities for video, audio and Ethernet available at the Intel Driver Update Utility page

All four updaters work with Windows XP and Vista, two of them claim to work with Windows 2000, none say they support Windows 7.

I also tried the Ethernet driver updater and, here too, the Java version failed to detect the Intel Ethernet hardware.

The ActiveX version warned that I had to restart Windows before the new settings took effect. What new settings it's talking about, I have no idea. Nonetheless, I rebooted. It didn't matter, this version too, failed to detect the Intel hardware (Intel PRO/1000 MT Mobile Connection according to Device Manager).

Three failures out of four. Such is life at big companies. Things fall through the cracks. 

You can find links to many more online "tester" pages at my JavaTester site. The others have been more reliable.

Update 1: September 3, 2009. I tested Intel driver updating on a second machine, a ThinkPad T60 that had Intel hardware for video and Ethernet. The Java version of the driver update failed to detect the Ethernet hardware but did detect the video are warned that the installed driver was old. 

Update 2: September 3, 2009. I found another machine to test with: an old IBM ThinkCentre with Intel video hardware running Windows XP SP3, IE8, Firefox 3.0.13 and Java 1.6.0_15. 

The ActiveX driver updater correctly detected the Intel hardware, noted that a newer driver was available and offered a link to download the newer driver. The Java version of the driver updater started to download but never finished. The problem was not with Firefox, ran other Java applets.

The driver updater only offered a link, nothing else. It did not actually do the update, neither did it offer any instructions. The downloaded driver was an EXE and the installation was a no-brainer, requiring a re-boot afterward.

Three annoyances ensued. The screen resolution was reset back to the native resolution, all the desktop icons were now left aligned (destroying the customized placements) and the Display Properties window would not close after being used to reset the screen resolution. The old driver was looking pretty good at this point. 

After the re-boot, the ActiveX updater reporter that the driver was current and the Java updater still failed to run. 

Totals so far: 8 tries, 5 detection failures, 3 detection successes. 

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