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Are there any "client managers" that can be used to manage the WLAN connection in Win XP?

I am using different WLANs for a while and so far mostly with "older" Windows systems (started with NT4(!) and Win98, recently using W2k). On all these systems vendors provided a "client manager" or "client utility" that let the user select appropriate profile. Some time ago I started using a Tablet PC (Compaq), which of course comes with Win XP. Win XP uses the "zero-configuration" technology for wireless LANs; you just select/accept the SSID. However, if I have a few WLANs to choose (e.g. at work we have a production WLAN, a test one and a few dedicated "vertical" applications), it is difficult to tell Windows to use the particular SSID.

Now the question: Are there any "client managers" that can be used to manage the WLAN connection in Win XP?
Thanks
Marek
Marek, you really have two questions here:

  1. How can you tell Windows XP to use a specific SSID? This can be done using the Properties panel for the wireless LAN interface. Click on the Advanced button at the lower right and uncheck the box that says "Automatically connect to non-preferred networks." Once you do that, the only SSIDs that your tablet PC will connect to are those you've explicitly added to the list on the Wireless Network properties page. That's an ordered list, so you can specify a preference for one SSID over another - for example, connect to your production WLAN before your test WLAN when both are in-range. If you want to force your tablet PC to connect to just one SSID, include only that SSID in the list. That might seem inconvenient, but it's actually not hard to remove and add entries from this list over time.

  2. How can you find other software that allows you to choose an SSID on Windows XP? You have a couple of possibilities. One is to use a card-independent connection manager -- for example, check out the Boingo software that I reviewed in my Wireless-To-Go column at searchMobileComputing. Note that you can use that software even if you do not connect to Boingo hot spots. Your other option is to find the client manager software for your wireless adapter. You can find out the make/model of the adapter by opening the interface's Properties page. If you don't get enough info there, click on the Configure tab and look at the Driver for your adapter. Then go to the vendor's website, find their support page for that adapter, and see if client manager software is available for download. There are indeed many client managers that run on Windows XP, even though they are optional for that operating system due to XP's zero config feature. Good luck!
This was last published in August 2003

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