Virtual hotspot for Surface Pro 3 – BROKEN

What was once a familiar yet confusing feature in Windows XP and 7 was sent packing to the command line in Windows 8, namely the ability to create ad-hoc wireless networks between machine and another peer. I suppose this feature was rarely used but one cool use I found was for an app called Tether-X for Windows Phone which was allowed the PC to use the phone’s data connection. Now, Windows Phone 8 has super easy hotspot creation, but UK network operator 3 doesn’t allow you to use it if you are on their generous all-you-can-eat data plans; somehow they detect it and display a forlorn message in the browser when you try to access a site. Of course, they can’t detect the use of Tether-X so for a glorious short period with my Surface Pro 1 I was able to use super fast 4G via my phone.

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Fast-forward to today. I now have a Surface Pro 3 and while its a great machine, it has suffered some issues with the WiFi. So I tried to get Tether-X working, ahead of a trip and was beaten – no 4G on the Surface for me!

The error I was stuck on was “The hosted network couldn’t be started. A device attached to the system is not functioning”.

After some intensive googling it seems that on the drivers for Windows 10 have removed Virtual Access Point (VAP) support in the Marvell drivers for the Surface. Surface Forums also have a good thread on the subject, with some response from an MS Tech.

I suppose the interesting question here is whether this has been done on purpose and Microsoft has bowed to pressure from mobile operators to remove this feature to stop people avoiding paying for tethering. It seems unlikely, probably more that this was an edge-case feature and it caused problems with the driver.

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