Windows Vista FAQ

Networking

Q. Has setting up a network gotten any easier?
Q. Is connecting to hotspots and wireless networks easier in Vista than in XP?
Q. How good is wireless network security under Vista?
Q. Are there any problems with mixing PCs that run older versions of Windows with ones that run Vista?

Q. Has setting up a network gotten any easier?

A. Yes, much easier. A simple wizard walks you through the process--and it works. Troubleshooting is better, too. And the Network Center provides a quick overview of your network so you can see whether everything is working right.

Q. Is connecting to hotspots and wireless networks easier in Vista than in XP?

A. Yes, it's far superior to the XP method of connecting. You can see a lot of detail about a wireless network before you connect to it, and you can save network connections so that you automatically connect whenever you're within range.

Q. How good is wireless network security under Vista?

A. There's good news here as well. When you first connect to a wireless network, you tell Windows Vista whether it's a public or private one. (A public network, such as a hotspot, can be used by anyone, so it's inherently insecure. A private network, such as your home network or a corporate network, is more secure than a public one.) Based on your answer, Windows Vista applies a constellation of security settings to that network, and it reapplies those settings whenever you connect to it. Network discovery--which Vista uses to allow other devices to connect to your PC and to share its files and folders--is turned off in public networks (to increase your security) but turned on in private ones.

Q. Are there any problems with mixing PCs that run older versions of Windows with ones that run Vista?

A. Unfortunately, yes. Windows Vista uses a new protocol, Link Layer Topology Discovery (LLTD), for networking. LLTD speeds up the process of connecting to other devices, and it allows Vista to grab information about each device and display it in the Network Map. But earlier versions of Windows lack LLTD, so PCs running older versions of Windows may not show up on the Network Map at all, or they may appear sporadically, or they may show up only after a long delay. Microsoft says that it intends to release a patch for XP that should solve the problem; but as yet it has no similar plans for earlier versions of the OS.

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