Bluetooth Mouse Pairing: Fix ‘Authentication Error’ in Windows 7
Every once in a while my bluetooth dongle decides to go whacky on me and the mouse won’t work any longer. Sometimes the keyboard also. Usually, I can unplug the dongle and replug it. This generally recovers both the mouse and the keyboard. Sometimes it requires repairing one or both of the devices. Today was a repairing day (at least for the mouse). Except, today didn’t go at all smoothly.
Note: Before proceeding with any pairing operation to battery powered devices such as mice or keyboards, always make sure your batteries are fresh. Dead or dying batteries can cause pairing problems simply because the wireless transmitter in the device may not produce a stable enough signal for the receiver. Also note that dead or dying batteries can sometimes be the source of device connectivity problems. Therefore, always make sure your batteries are fresh before attempting pairing operations with these devices.
Normally I just go into ‘Devices and Printers’ and delete the device and pair it again. This usually works seamlessly. Today, not so much. I successfully delete the Targus mouse from the ‘Devices and Printers’ and that works correctly. I then put the mouse into discovery mode and start the ‘Add a Bluetooth Device’ panel. The panel finds the mouse fine. I select the mouse and click ‘Next’. I then see the next image.
So, this is a reasonably stupid error because it’s a mouse. Mice don’t have authentication errors because they don’t use pairing codes. I have no idea why Windows would even present this. It’s clear that something is completely borked in Windows. And, you know, this is one of the things about Windows I absolutely hate. It gives stupid errors like this without any hope for resolution. Note that clicking the little blue link at the bottom of the window is completely worthless. Clicking that link won’t help you resolve this issue. It leads you to some worthless help page that leaves more questions than answers and only serves to waste time. I digress.
So, now that I’ve received this error, I proceed to Google to find an answer. Well, I didn’t find one. After traversing through several forums where people are asking the same questions, no answers here. Then, I proceed to search the registry thinking it left some garbage in the registry from the previous pairing. Nope, that search was a waste. So now, I’m basically at the trial and error phase of resolution.
I finally get to Microsoft’s knowledgebase which is probably where I should have visited first. Unfortunately, even that didn’t help, but I did find that Windows Server doesn’t support Bluetooth devices (not that that’s very helpful for my issue because I’m on Windows 7). What visiting this page at Microsoft did is give me an idea of how to proceed based on some images I saw. Not images of what I’m about to show you, though. Just an image of something that triggered a thought about how silly Microsoft is which lead to another thought and so on leading to the below.
So, I go back to trying to pair again. I set the mouse up into pairing mode and then start ‘Add a Bluetooth Device’. Instead, this time I decide to right click the device about to be added:
You’ll need to do this pretty quickly as the device won’t stay in pairing mode for very long. So, click ‘Properties’ and you’ll see the following window:
Now, check the box next to the ‘Drivers for keyboard, mice, etc (HID)’ and click ‘OK’. This should immediately pair the device without the ‘Authentication Error’ panel appearing. At least, this fix worked perfectly for my situation. I can’t guarantee this will work with every Bluetooth mouse or every Bluetooth hardware. So, your results may vary. It’s definitely worth giving it a try, though.
Note: The differences in Bluetooth drivers may prevent this fix from working across the board. So, you will have to try this and relay your experience of whether or not it works for you.
Note, after I unpaired the mouse and repaired it after having done the above, I now see the following panel instead of the authentication error panel. This is the correct panel for the mouse. Clicking ‘Pair without using a code’ works perfectly now for this device. I have no idea what caused the other panel to present above. Note that once Windows gets into that state above, it stays there. Not sure why Windows would cache an error, but apparently it does. I’m at a complete loss why Microsoft would cache anything to do with real-time device connection activities like this! However, the mouse now unpairs and pairs correctly again. Whatever causes this issue, the Windows development team needs to fix it.
These are the stupid little things that make Windows such a hacky time-wasting experience. It’s these stupid quirky behaviors that give Microsoft a bad wrap and that continue to make Microsoft perceived as an inept operating system development company. It’s problems like this that make Windows a 1990’s level computer experience.
And, I’m not just talking about the error itself. I’m talking about the overall experience surrounding the error to the lack of any help in finding an answer. It’s having to resort to searching Google to find answers when Microsoft’s knowledgebase has nothing and offers no answers. It’s the having to guess using trial and error to find an answer. It’s the bad experience and bad taste that this experience leaves. Microsoft get your sh*t together. It’s long time for Windows to be done with experiences like this and time wasting experiences. If there are resolutions to a problem, then the time has long past to lead your users who see errors like this one to an exact resolution page with step-by-step instructions that work. Clearly, there is a resolution to my issue and I present it here. Why can’t your team do the same?
Seriously, I don’t understand why Microsoft relies on sites like mine to help users fix problems that Microsoft cannot be bothered to document properly. Yes, I realize I’m contributing to the problem by writing this article and ‘helping’ Microsoft out. Note, however, it’s not so much about helping Microsoft as it is helping users who run into this same stupid experience. The purpose of this article is to show just how stupid this experience is. It’s clear that Microsoft has no want in helping its own users who PAID for this product to actually give them real support and documentation. So, why do we continue to use Windows?