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No Network Activity Indicator in Windows 7: But Why?

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Microsoft is full of oddities and little known answers to mysterious questions. The purpose of this series is to seek out those answers and offer them to you. Please comment with other questions you'd like to get answered!

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  • TechbloggerTechblogger

    These are quite facinating guys.  Keep these vids coming.

  • Not to mention that with today's applications (both desktop and web).  They're constantly doing some sort of checks in the background meaning all you would really ever see is constant blinking.

  • AlexAlex

    In many cases, there is a hardware led indicator, that wifi is sending something :)

  • I do WiFi networks for a living and I have come across several XP users who believe their internet is down if that light is not blinking. I'm glad it's gone Smiley

  • I always used the task manager's network tab to see activity on the network.

    I'd have liked to have seen a way to limit network speed from within Windows 7 itself though, I share my broadband connection and simple browsing websites can create annoying lag spikes for people in games. I'm using 3rd party network limiter at the moment, but its not ideal to say the least.


  • I'm happy with it being gone. These days my network is always doing stuff so it would be pretty much useless information. Besides, I hate blinking lights. I can't stand blinking : symbols on clocks for example Smiley

  • MeMe

    Nice post... as said... keep them comming. :)

  • As long as there's an app for that...

  • SeanSean

    Technically, this isn't quite accurate.
    The question was: why isn't there a network activity indicator.
    The information in the provided answer is all true, but really doesn't answer the specific question. For one thing, the blinking lights were disabled by default in Windows Vista, so to say that it's a Windows 7 design principle that removed them is not quite accurate.
    Secondly, the original reason we removed the blinking in Windows Vista was for battery life -- in order to blink the lights accurately, the indicator would poll the network drivers once a second, which as a side effect, would prevent often prevent network devices from going into low power states. Coupled with the fact that with the advent of broadband, and apps that constantly used the network, the blinking was not really telling the user much anymore (it was designed for use with dialup networks).
    The primary change from Vista to Win7 was about changing the design of the icon from a pair of monitors to the current ones. And, as the answerer says, various notification balloons associated with the icon were also removed or pared down (though most of them were removed in Windows Vista as well).

  • I quite honestly didn't notice.  I like that Windows 7 is quieter than it's predecessor.  There are some popups which are helpful but most applications produce messages just to draw attention to themselves.  I like that Outlook tells you that Exchange is not available instead of hanging with the doughnut of "not responding".

  • @Sean:There were also other changes - all the notification area icons got new graphics - they went from multicolored and vaguely 3d to monochrome and flat as well.

  • @Larry Osterman: And that flat monochrome is beautiful.

  • justpassinbyjustpassinby

    I used Windows XP before and only recently buy a new laptop with Windows 7 , so I basically never use Vista. And I also knew, there is an option to disable that blinking icon from showing , in Windows XP. But I didn't disable it.
    FrankIy , I kinda missed the blinking network activity indicator for a reason. It tells me that network activities happen. An important role for this is when I minimize all windows and leave my browser/software downloading things from the internet. With the blinking icon, I can quickly verify whether my download is still progressing, finished , or stopped because of some error or disconnection.
    Without the network activity indicator, this will actually take more of my time maximizing those individual windows to check on the downloads.
    Another important role for it back on earlier days, I can also easily check whether software in my computer is using an internet connection without my knowledge/permission,  for example a virus or trojan running in background process . When no browser and no network related programs running, but the network activity icons still blinks, then it's easy to be alerted that something is wrong.
    While it could be annoying and not that useful to have, I think it should not be removed totally from being able to displayed in WIndows 7. Disabling it by default should suffice. 

  • MartinMartin

    I am very disappointed, that very important features have been removed in Windows 7 or still are not customizable any more.In Windows XP I used to enable the Network Icons for all my Connections. So I could at least estimate how much each of my Connections was utilized. I would have apperciated it, to see that features are being improved, not removed. There are Network-Graphs in TaskManager. Why not provide a possibility to enable a tiny version of them in System-Tray?I always want do know, what's going on at my system. I feel quite fulnerable if cannot customize an operating system, for having everything, that is important to me to be in my field of vision. I feel quite offended if someone else think's he knows my needs better than I do. Even more if they even hinder me of customizing that system.

  • krazeekoz@ytkrazeekoz@yt

    these versions do NOT have a valid digital signature.nice try guys

  • GabrielHGabrielH

    You can try GabNetStats which will bring back the old icon from Windows XP into Seven, it has been inspired by Igor Tolmatchev product, but has more features and is more optimized. It is free for personal use as well.

    URL : http://www.gabsoftware.com/products/applications/gabnetstats/

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