If you don't already have enough reason to deploy Windows XP SP2, Microsoft has beefed up the support for wireless networking in the latest service pack.
I was surprised at the number of new enhancements for wireless networking in SP2. Not only has it increased security for wireless networking, but Microsoft has added some new features that make connecting to wireless networks much easier than in previous versions. If you rely on wireless networking in your company, you should definitely load up the service pack and test the new Wi-Fi features.
Some the new enhancements include the following:
- Built-in support for Wi-Fi Protected Access -- This feature was originally included as a downloadable add-on, but it's now included in Windows XP.
- Wireless Provisioning Services (WPS) -- This is a set of client extensions that help automate the connection to Wi-Fi hot spots.
- Wireless Network Setup Wizard -- This feature is extremely useful. Not only does it automate the wireless setup, but it allows you to export the settings to a flash drive, so you can easily automate the configuration of other computers.
- Wireless Zero Configuration service logging -- Windows XP SP2 now supports detailed logging for various components to troubleshoot the wireless authentication process.
- New repair functionality for wireless connections -- With this feature, you can maximize your Wi-Fi efficiency by allowing Windows XP to repair a Wi-Fi connection. I had to do this myself once, and I was able to successfully reconnect to the Wi-Fi network. Click here to see the image.
- Changes to default 802.1x authentication behavior -- Windows XP SP2 now automatically disables 802.1x authentication on the Authentication tab of the properties of a wireless network when you manually configure an encryption key. Click here to see the image.
- New Wireless Network Connection dialog box -- This dialog box has been greatly enhanced to make it easier for end users to understand what is happening and what connections are available.
- Changes to wireless connection and wireless network properties in the Network Connections folder -- Additional information has been added to the network properties so that troubleshooting wireless connections is an easy task. Click here to see the image.
- Changes to wireless connection process and status reporting -- New and complete information is available during the connection process and the connection status reporting, so that you can better troubleshoot, or help end users troubleshoot connection problems.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rod Trent, manager of myITforum.com and Microsoft MVP is a leading expert on Microsoft Systems Management Server. He has more than 18 years of IT experience -- eight of which have been dedicated to SMS. He is the author of such books as Microsoft SMS Installer, Admin911:SMS, and IIS 5.0: A Beginner's Guide, and has written literally thousands of articles on technology topics.
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