Dell Wireless 1703 on Windows Server 2019

Recently at work I had to install this OS (with the Desktop Experience feature set) on a Dell XPS 8700. Windows was able to recognize everything properly and all components but the network adapter would show up in Device Manager. Tried the usual things to fix this:

  • Installing the driver from Dell; it would install but Windows would fail to make use of it.
  • Updating the driver using “Search automatically for updated driver software”. This would fail with Windows complaining about an issue with the INF.
  • Manually pick a driver from the filesystem. It would also fail with an error about the INF.

Looked at the INF file but there wasn’t anything in it that would make Windows Server just up and refuse to install the thing, and given there isn’t that much difference between Windows 10 and Windows Server the issue had to lie elsewhere.

There is one thing that Windows 10 does, however, and that’s automatically start WLAN services, since usually you’d see Windows Server be installed on enterprise hardware or have it connected to the network via Ethernet. Turns out Windows Server does not even install this feature on its own.

To install it:

  1. Click Start button.
  2. Type “Turn features on or off”.
  3. Click Next 4 times (Before you Begin, Installation Type, Server Selection (which defaults to the local server), and Features.
  4. On the Features selection list, scroll down to Wireless LAN Service and select it.
  5. Click Install and wait for the OS to do its thing.
  6. Reboot system. This is required for it all to work.

After the system comes back up the network adapter should be installed and enabled in Device Manager.

Ah, right… in addition to this it turns out the “Dell Update Application” totally does not work under this OS so you have to manually download and install all device drivers; this took me a couple of hours, so mind your clock.