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  1. What's Microsoft Been Doing on Wireless Protocols?
  2. Introducing Wireless Technologies Supported by Windows XP Professional and Home Operating Systems
  3. Comparing Wireless Technologies
  4. Summary
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Introducing Wireless Technologies Supported by Windows XP Professional and Home Operating Systems

Wireless connections can extend or replace a wired infrastructure in which it is costly or prohibitive to lay cables. Temporary installations represent one example of when a wireless network might make sense or even be required. Some types of buildings or building codes may prohibit the use of wiring, making wireless networking an important alternative.

And of course the "no new wires" phenomenon involving wireless, along with phone line networking and even electrical power line networking, has become a major catalyst for home networking and the connected home experience.

Mobile users are becoming one of the primary drivers adopting wireless LANs. Portable access to wireless networks can be achieved using laptop computers and wireless NICs. This enables the user to travel to various locations—meeting rooms, hallways, lobbies, cafeterias, and classrooms—and still have access to their networked data. Without wireless access, the user would have to carry clumsy cabling and find a network tap to plug into.

Beyond the corporate campus, access to the Internet and even corporate sites could be made available through public wireless "hot spots" networks. Airports, restaurants, rail stations, and common areas throughout cities can be provisioned to provide this service. When the traveling worker reaches his or her destination, perhaps meeting a client at the corporate office, limited access could be provided to the user through the local wireless network. The network can recognize the user from another corporation and create a connection that is isolated from local corporate network but provides Internet access to the visiting user.

In all these scenarios, it is worth highlighting that today's standards-based wireless LANs operate at high speeds—the same speeds that were considered state of the art for wired networks just a few years ago. The access the user has is typically more than 11MBps, or about 30 to 100 times faster than standard dial-up or wireless WAN technologies. This bandwidth is certainly adequate to deliver a great user experience for a number of applications or services via the PC or mobile device. In addition, ongoing advancements with these wireless standards continue to increase bandwidth, with speeds of 22MB.

Many infrastructure providers are wiring public areas across the world. Within the next 12 months, most airports, conference centers, and many hotels will provide 802.11b access for their visitors.

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