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Chapter 7: Setting Up Your Windows PCs for Wireless Networking 129

Wireless Zero Configuration with XP

Windows XP promises to make connecting to new wireless networks easier through a service that Microsoft has dubbed Wireless Zero Configuration. Although Microsoft’s claim of zero configuration is a bit of an exaggeration, configuration is pretty easy. When installing or configuring a wireless adapter that’s supported by Windows XP, you don’t need to use software provided by the manufacturer. Instead, Windows XP itself recognizes the adapter and provides the necessary driver and configuration software.

Easy installation

As an alternative to the manufacturer’s installation and configuration software, follow these steps to install and configure a supported wireless network adapter. (Note: We recommend that you check the documentation that accompanies your wireless adapter to determine whether it is supported by Windows XP Zero Configuration before continuing with these steps.)

1.If you plan to use a wireless network interface adapter that you have to install inside the case of the computer, turn off the computer and install the PCI or ISA adapter.

2.Log on to Windows XP as a user with administrator rights.

If you installed Windows XP, you probably have administrator rights. To check, choose Start Settings Control Panel User Accounts to display the User Accounts screen that shows the accounts on your computer. If you’re not listed as Computer Administrator, you need to find out who is the administrator and get that person to change your account.

3.Insert the PC Card or attach the USB adapter.

Windows XP displays a message that your new hardware is installed and ready to use.

Because your computer is within range of your network’s wireless AP (they have to be close enough to talk to each other), Windows XP announces that one (or more) wireless network is available and suggests that you click the Network icon to see a list of available networks.

4.Click the Network icon in the notification area of the task bar at the bottom-right of the screen.

Windows XP displays the Wireless Network Connection dialog box, as shown in Figure 7-6.

130 Part III: Installing a Wireless Network

Figure 7-6:





dialog box.

5.In the Network Key text box, type the WEP key that you used in the AP configuration, enter the key again in the Confirm Network Key text box, and then click the Connect button.

The dialog box disappears, and Windows XP displays a balloon message that announces a wireless network connection and indicates the connection’s speed and signal strength (poor, good, or excellent). The Network icon in the status bar flashes green occasionally to indicate network traffic on the wireless connection.

In a matter of minutes, you have installed and configured a wireless network connection. If you have trouble connecting, you can access more configuration information by clicking the Advanced button in the Wireless Network Connection dialog box (refer to Figure 7-6) to display the Wireless Network Connection Properties dialog box (shown in Figure 7-7).

Automatic network connections

Easy installation and configuration is only half of the Windows XP wireless networking story. If you know that you will use your computer to connect to several different wireless networks — perhaps one at home and another at work — Windows XP enables you to configure the wireless adapter to automatically detect and connect to each network on the fly, without further configuration.

To configure one or more wireless networks for automatic connection, follow these steps:

1.In the notification area of the status bar at the bottom of the screen, click the Network icon to display the Wireless Network Connection dialog box and then click the Properties button.

Chapter 7: Setting Up Your Windows PCs for Wireless Networking 131

2.In the Wireless Network Connection Properties dialog box (see Figure 7-7) that appears, click the Wireless Networks tab.

Notice that your home wireless network is already listed. If your computer is in range of the second wireless network, its SSID will also be listed.

Figure 7-7:

The Wireless Network Connection Properties dialog box.

3.To add another network to the list, click the Add button on the Wireless Networks tab.

4.In the Wireless Network Properties dialog box that appears, type the network name (SSID) of the other wireless network to which you will be connecting your computer in the Network Name text box.

You’d want to enter the network name (SSID) for the wireless network at your office, for example.

5.If you’re connecting to a wireless network at your office, make sure that you have appropriate authorization and check with the network administrator for encryption keys and authorization procedures that he or she has implemented.

If the network administrator has implemented a system for automatically providing users with WEP keys, click OK.

If the wireless network to which you plan to connect doesn’t have an automatic key distribution system in place, do this:

a.Deselect the The Key Is Provided for Me Automatically check box.

b.Enter the WEP key.

c.Click OK to save this network SSID.