User Experience Engineering

Friday, January 12, 2007


Troubleshooting Bluetooth on Dell with XP SP2

In a nutshell: If you are running a Toshiba Bluetooth network adapter under Windows XP Service Pack 2, you may need to ditch the Toshiba driver and let Windows XP handle it.

I recently purchased a bluetooth-capable wireless phone from T-Mobile. I proceeded to try and pair it with my Dell XPS m140 laptop. My purpose was to use the computer for keeping address book, calendar, and task items, and keep the phone simple, and lighter than a PDA.

At first, Bluetooth did not even start up from the system tray icon. The only right-click option was "start bluetooth". After selecting that, the installer for Toshiba Bluetooth Stack started. It warned that installation would take up to fifteen minutes. In fact, it would stall at 63% complete on the progress bar, and then get stuck in a loop.

Dell XPS "Express Service" support told me that I needed a new driver from, a 26MB download. I downloaded and made four attempts to install the new driver, as follows:

  1. Only option in the installer was to remove the driver. I chose it.
  2. Error message claimed that no suitable transfer protocol was found.
  3. Error message claimed that no suitable transfer protocol was found.
  4. Firmware update proceeded.
Each time, I accepted the warning message that the new driver was not Windows Logo Compliant.

The driver thus installed met with intermittent (buggy) results. The phone could initiate connection to the laptop, but not vice versa. And, one other problem persisted. I called up Bluetooth settings, chose the options tab, and ticked the box "Turn discovery on". When I hit Apply or OK, I would receive the message, "An error occurred while windows was saving your settings. The following settings were not saved: Discoverability settings, Connection settings". Also odd was the fact that I saw two Bluetooth icons in the notification area, one for Toshiba and one unlabeled (resumably Windows XP).

I spent some more hours on the phone with Dell tech support. I installed DellConnect, and allowed them to view my screen remotely. They had me repeat the same steps, with the same results. Then, they tried a number of different steps, one of which led my system to recognize Bluetooth as a dialup network connection.

While on hold, I discovered an article on PC Advisor Forums, which led me to Microsoft Knowledge Base article 883258 (KB883258). The gist of the Microsoft article is that certain Bluetooth drivers did not work after Windows XP Service Pack 2. To restore bluetooth device functioning, one must remove the manufacturer's driver, and let Windows XP recognize and handle the Bluetooth device.

I told the Dell technician about KB883258. He seemed interested, but objected to the removal of Toshiba's driver, and advised me to reinstall it. That did not work. He wanted to confer with others, and I asked him to call back.

I then worked on my own. The KB article advice got me most of the way there. The following additional steps may be specific to my hardware.

  1. Removed the Toshiba driver, using their installer (I could have used the control panel Add/Remove Programs).
  2. Canceled the Found New Hardware Wizard
  3. Rebooted.
The discovery checkbox then worked. (I Double-clicked the Bluetooth system tray icon, selected the Options tab, and ticked "Turn discovery on".) The laptop could then add the phone as a Bluetooth device. I noticed that the KB article dated from November 2006, five months after the release date on the Toshiba Bluetooth Stack v4.00.22D and firmware upgrade v24.22 for Dell Wireless 350 Bluetooth Module. (XP SP2 has been around since August 2004).

The Dell tech then called me back, and suggested that I back up all my data and restore the computer to factory settings. I declined, and said that Bluetooth worked, now that the Toshiba driver had been removed.

Happy with the solution that I had found, Dell gave me a small credit to my account. Will they update the page on to eliminate the Toshiba driver and point to the Microsoft article? Time will tell.

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