Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Windows Wireless Suckfest

Well, it wasn't the SMC gateway that was causing the problems out at our customer site. Nor was it the SMC WAPs. It was our old friend, XP's Wireless Zero Configuration.

As I noted yesterday, my iBook worked as you'd expect out at the customer site. I replicated the basic setup today in our lab, but substituted a Netgear WG302 WAP for the SMC WAP. Again, my iBook just worked, while my Dell with the Netgear Wireless-G card choked. But if I disable WZC and used Netgear's drivers and configuration utilities, the same card worked just fine.

I even tested to make sure it wasn't the SMC gateway's DHCP server, by connecting the WG302 to an old Cayman NAT box I had laying around. When using WZC, the connection died after 10 - 15 minutes. With it disabled I was able to maintain a connection for over an hour and pass significant amounts of traffic.

I wish Microsoft would just ditch WZC, since they can't seem to get it to consistently work, and leave wireless configuration to the cards' vendors. Now I'm going to have to call the customer back and explain to him that he's going to have to tell anyone who wants to use the hotspot that they need to disable WZC and use their card's manufacturer's driver and utility. That's going to go over like a lead balloon, because it means they're going to have to find someone to provide client support.

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