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Wi-Fi Gives Laptop Users Untethered Internet Access

Going Wireless? Microsoft Windows XP Automatically Locates Wi-Fi Hot Spots, Simplifies Setup and Ensures Secure Computing

Along a grassy median in downtown Portland, Ore., a canopy of elm trees creates a shady oasis where couples can nestle, shoppers can take a breather and computer users can roam the Internet on their laptop PCs.

Wait a minute. Laptop users connecting to the Internet in an urban park? That’s right. New, easy-to-use wireless technologies offer laptop users the freedom to surf the Web without being tethered to an Internet cord at home or in the office. Experts predict that more than 200,000 wireless “hot spots” locations that offer wireless access to the Web will be available worldwide within five years. Already, laptop users across the United States can jump online wirelessly in airports, coffee shops, hotels, urban parks and even some McDonald’s restaurants.

How does it work? The technology that enables this wireless emancipation is known as 802.11, Wireless Fidelity — or “Wi-Fi” for short. It allows the operator of a wireless hot spot to distribute Internet connections about 100 feet via low-powered radio signal to anyone with a properly equipped computer.

“The beauty of Wi-Fi is that it allows people the freedom and flexibility to access the Internet in more places than ever before,” said Tracy Overby, product manager for the Windows Division at Microsoft Corp. “And once you have decided to go wireless, Windows XP will help make the experience both easier and safer for laptop users.”

Getting connected to wireless hot spots is easy? Absolutely. All that’s needed is a recent-model laptop and a wireless networking card; some laptops, including Tablet PCs, even come with these cards built in. Laptop users also need to find a wireless service provider and choose an appropriate wireless plan. High-speed digital subscriber line (DSL) or broadband connections cost more than dial-up service but make it easier to view large files.

To get the most out of going Wi-Fi, laptop users should ensure their laptop’s operating system is up to the rigors of wireless computing. Microsoft Windows XP is a prime example of an operating system built for people who don’t want to compromise on reliability or security enhancements to enjoy the freedom that wireless computing offers. Among the features of Windows XP designed to maximize Wi-Fi are these:

“Sniffing out” - hot spots. Only avid Wi-Fi enthusiasts know the exact range of their local wireless hot spots. Windows XP “sniffs out” available hot spots and notifies laptop users when one is available, leaving the guesswork to the computer.

Easy setup - For those who don’t want to spend time fussing with computer settings, Windows XP automatically configures a laptop’s internal settings each time they enter a new hot spot, saving the time and hassle of figuring out how to connect when roaming to different locations.

Enhanced security - To help ensure a security-enhanced connection so that only the intended recipient receives messages sent wirelessly, Windows XP automatically encrypts messages and requires the receiver’s PC to provide the correct authentication.

About Fabrizio Pilato

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