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Windows 10 to kill Wi-Fi password-sharing option

A controversial part of the Wi-Fi Sense feature will be jettisoned in an upcoming version of Windows.


Microsoft will remove Wi-Fi sharing for the next major update to Windows 10.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Microsoft is dumping a touchy Windows 10 option that lets you share your Wi-Fi passwords with contacts.

The option is part of a feature called Wi-Fi Sense, aimed at making it easy to share your Wi-Fi network with family, friends, visitors and other people within range. The goal was to eliminate the hassle of manually doling out your Wi-Fi password to those whom you want to grant access.

But the password-sharing option aroused concerns, especially at first, from people who thought it automatically shared your network with anyone who wanted access. Wi-Fi Sense actually offers controls so you can choose which networks to share and which contacts can tap into your Wi-Fi. Your contacts gain access to your network but your password remains unknown to them.

Still, in the latest preview edition of Windows, Microsoft has decided to remove the Wi-Fi password-sharing option, which wasn't used enough to justify the cost of maintenance. But it will keep the Wi-Fi Sense feature that lets you connect to open networks.

"The cost of updating the code to keep this feature working combined with low usage and low demand made this not worth further investment," Microsoft VP Gabe Aul wrote in a blog late Tuesday. "Wi-Fi Sense, if enabled, will continue to get you connected to open Wi-Fi hotspots that it knows about through crowdsourcing."

To make up for failings of Windows 8, Microsoft has aggressively been trying to coax people to shift to Windows 10, which is available as a free upgrade to anyone running Windows 7 or 8.1. But that deal is scheduled to end July 29, so Microsoft needs to entice as many users as possible before then.

Microsoft will roll out a Windows 10 Anniversary edition this summer with a variety of new and revised features, including the removal of the Wi-Fi password sharing. The company hasn't specified when this new edition will be available, but several reports peg a late July arrival. If so, that won't give users too much time to check out the new edition and then decide if they want to take advantage of the free upgrade offer.