Windows 11 setup gets new option to install network drivers

Windows 11 will now let you install network drivers from the Out-of-box Experience in case the setup didn't detect Ethernet or Wi-Fi adapter.

Windows 11 network settings
Windows 11 network settings
  • Windows 11 OOBE experience gains the option to install network drivers.
  • The option will allow users to provide drivers to install Ethernet and Wi-Fi adapters.
  • It’s unclear when the option will roll out to everyone.

Microsoft is working to add a new option to install network drivers through the initial setup of Windows 11. In the latest preview of the operating system (build 25977) in the Canary Channel, X user @WilliamLenharo (via Neowin) has come across a new option in the Out-of-box Experience (OOBE) that allows users to install the required network drivers.

Usually, the Windows 11 Setup process is able to detect and install most Ethernet and Wireless adapters automatically. However, depending on the hardware in question, sometimes the setup cannot see the adapter, and the user is unable to continue with the initial setup experience since the operating system requires an internet connection to create a Microsoft account.

It’s possible to bypass the internet connection and Microsoft account creation, but that requires workarounds that are not part of the intended experience.

As a result, starting on Windows 11 build 25977 and higher releases, during the OOBE, more specifically on the “Let’s connect you to a network” page, Microsoft is adding a new “Install driver” option that you can use to provide the correct drivers to install the network adapter and continue with the setup and allow the system to download new features and security updates.

Windows 11 OOBE install driver option
Windows 11 OOBE install driver option / Image: @WilliamLenharo

In the case that Windows 11 is unable to detect the network adapter, you will have to download it from your manufacturer’s website using a different computer.

While this is a welcome addition, it’s not the only change. The company has been updating the Out-of-box Experience with different improvements, including changes that make restoring your computer from backup easier if the device had previously enabled the settings from the Windows Backup app.

Also, it’s now possible to use Voice Access during the initial setup from the Accessibility menu, and the “Let’s customize your experience” page includes a new “Development” option to help users set up the computer with a development environment.

Since the new drivers option is available through the Canary Channel, it’s unclear when the company plans to roll out this feature.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].