Windows 11 to Show VPN Status

John Lister's picture

Windows 11 may soon show whether or not users are connected to a VPN. It's a simple feature, but it's significant since the technology is getting such mainstream acknowledgement.

VPN stands for virtual private network, a feature that has three main benefits. The first is that it creates an "encrypted tunnel" for data going back and forth between the user and the Internet.

One analogy is that ordinary Internet traffic works like a glass tube, while a VPN is more like a totally enclosed road tunnel. In simplistic terms, it means nobody else can see what is happening as data is sent and received while it's in transit. The big drawback is that the VPN operator can potentially see all the data in transit, making it key to use a trusted provider.

Using a VPN Means Your Location is Hidden

The second benefit is that the data is routed through a VPN server, such that third parties can't see the user's actual location. That's particularly important for people trying to access information and communicate in countries with oppressive regimes that target political opponents and critics.

A third benefit is that the data can be routed so that it appears to come from a country other than the user's true location. That can be useful for bypassing regional blocks, for example on video subscription services.

While VPNs are perfectly legal in most countries, it's something of a surprise that Microsoft would so prominently acknowledge their existence and use. Windows 11 already lets users connect to a VPN service without needing a dedicated software tool. However, one potential risk is that the VPN could become disconnected without the user realizing - meaning that the IP would no longer be hidden.

Icon Shows VPN Active

Members of the Windows 11 test program for potential new features have spotted a new VPN status indicator in the system tray. It appears as a blue lock symbol that appears on top of the main Network icon that shows an Internet connection is active.

At the moment, the indicator only appears when using Windows itself to configure and manage the VPN. It doesn't work when connecting through dedicated VPN software, though that could change if and when the feature makes it into Windows for all users. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Do you use a VPN? Would a status indicator like this be useful? Could this be taken as Microsoft "endorsing" VPN use and would that be a problem?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I don't see why this is even a feature unless Microsoft is in the midst to jump on the VPN bandwagon in order to push its own VPN subscription model. Most users that use VPNs on a regular basis already pay for a subscription service, and they already have their own dedicated programs that either plugin to the web browser or mask the entire network connection (speaking from experience).

LouisianaJoe's picture

If MS knows that it is there, they can put access to it which can take away the privacy of using a VPN. I would not use the MS "feature" and continue to use the existing dedicated programs.

russoule's picture

the purposes of a VPN, even just a "basic" VPN, is to avoid scrutiny by either "bad actors" or governments or corporate greedy providers. using a VPN could slow internet response, so there is obviously an important reason why a user would have it at all. if MicroSoft plans on exposes the useage of a VPN on any given individual, then ALL advantage disappears. in my case, why would I continue to pay for privacy and security to a third-party VPN provider if there is NO privacy and NO security?

this sounds like an attempt by MS to kill off the competition.

Unrecognised's picture

on internet freedom versus fragmentation. Rabbit hole leads here I hope the link is permitted.

If the internet weren't siloed by profiteers (of either the money or power types), people wouldn't need VPNs, which have become so mainstream you see them advertised on TV. Microsoft might as well jump on the bandwagon for potential future profiteering.

As always, though, I'd rather they just backed the hell off. Intrude, intrude, intrude; that's all they do. They're pathetically addicted to trying to corral their cash cow, the user. Come on Linux! Speed up your development!