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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Connecting a Laptop to a Wireless Network in Windows Vista

A laptop equipped with a wireless networking card can connect to any compatible wireless network. The first step is to find any available networks. The second step is to connect. The final step is to use the network and the goodies it provides
To hunt down a wireless network when Windows Vista is in charge, heed these steps:
1. Choose the Connect To item from the Start menu.
The Connect to a Network window appears. The window lists various things you can connect to. The wireless networks broadcasting within range of your laptop's wireless networking gizmo are shown in the Wireless Network Connection area.
2. Choose a network from the list to highlight it.
3. Click the Connect button.
Windows attempts to "make friendly" with the network.
You may see a warning telling you that the network is unsecured. This message is common for certain free wireless networks that don't require a password for connection. Click the Connect Anyway option to proceed.
4. Enter the network's password, if you're prompted to do so.
5. Choose whether the network is public or private.
This is a vital question. A public network is one that's out in public, one that others (strangers!) can also use. In that situation, you want to ensure that your laptop is locked down and not open to snooping.
A private network is one in your home or office, available only to safe computers or folks you know. Such a network is more open than the public network.
6. Choose whether to save the network's connection information.
Save the information if you plan on using that wireless connection again. That way, you don't have to reenter the password every time you connect (in theory anyway).
7. Click the Close button.
8. Click the Continue button if you're prompted by a User Account Control dialog box.
You're now connected and ready to use the network. A wireless networking icon appears in the notification area on the taskbar, showing that you're connected; point the mouse at that icon for more information.
You may be prompted by various User Account Control warnings. These are okay here because you're modifying the system in order to connect with the wireless network; freely click the Allow button.
The password you enter may not be accepted. If so, you need to manually connect to the network.
Sometimes, it pays to wait a few moments for the wireless connection to sync up (or something). Don't take the lack of an immediate "Connection made, yee-ha!" message as a sign of failure.
The best way to hunt down wireless networks is to use a third-party wireless network browser. Such a program may have come with your laptop's wireless adapter, or it can also be found on the Internet; be sure that your wireless network browser is compatible with Windows Vista.

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