Simon Dickson has been blogging about online government, politics and WordPress since 2005. Some important people read it.

 
 
Wednesday 30 January 2008

Curing Vista's outrageous wifi problem

At the heart of my dislike for Windows Vista has been a recurring problem with wifi. The spread of free wifi, notably thanks to McDonalds has been a godsend to someone like me, living well outside London (ooh, nice double entendre there) but spending a lot of time in it. But too many times, I've connected to a wifi network only for Vista to tell me: local access only.

I've finally found a cure, but typical Microsoft, it's hard to find and even harder to understand. All it involves is a bit of registry tweaking: follow these (fairly simple) instructions on their support site. It worked, and I'm relieved. (For what it's worth: I opted to disable the 'DhcpConnForceBroadcastFlag' completely, on all the GUIDs listed in the registry. It worked for me, but it may be better for others to follow the 'DhcpConnEnableBcastFlagToggle' route.)

But this issue causes me real concern as regards Vista. The Microsoft wording infers that it's a feature, not a fault. That it's deliberate on their part. That it's the wifi providers' fault for not supporting its new feature... not that it's Vista's fault for not being automatically compatible with (in my experience) most public wifi networks. And I just don't think it's fair or realistic to expect the typical laptop buyer to start hacking the registry, especially when Vista goes to such great lengths to scare you away.

Comments ( 9 )

  1. Dave Briggs says:

    Simon, I too have had irritations with Vista, so tonight I went after work and bought myself a MacBook. Will still keep the Vista laptop - there's applications on there that I love too much to get rid of entirely, but the MacBook will be my portable, carry-around machine.

    I've been playing with it all night (see, I can do double entendres too) and I have to say...it's going to take some getting used to.

  2. Simon Wheatley says:

    @Dave - pick up a copy of Parallels or an equivalent, which will allow you to run Windows inside the Mac when you need to, and then you can avoid carrying two machines.

  3. Jeremy Gould says:

    Well if you will buy Microsoft.... :-)

  4. Aha - thanks for the heads up. I've run into the same problem myself, even when connecting to the wireless network in my own house (which was rock-steady with my last PC).

    My favourite Vista feature is the way it shuts down. Sometimes (seemingly at random) my laptop takes 5 minutes or more to turn off. Being the easily distracted type, I usually close the lid and go and find something more interesting to do.

    Unfortunately, this forces the machine into hibernation mode - while it's simultaneously trying to shut down.

    The outcome? The next time I go to use it, the laptop comes out of hibernation and picks up where it left off - usually displaying the shutdown screen for a minute or so before switching off altogether. Does wonders for my productivity.

  5. Ian Douglas says:

    I haven't regretted the move to a Mac for a second. It's true, it does take a little getting used to after all those years of right-clicking, but once you have it's so much better. I went back to what I now think of as my wife's XP machine the other day and was amazed by how cumbersome it all was.

  6. jane says:

    Your link did not work, here it is again:
    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/928233/en-us

  7. ari.g says:

    thanks so much, I was getting pretty ****** off with Vista, but this tip seems to work!

  8. Andy Swarbrick says:

    After several days of headache what worked for me is that Vista also needs a "wireless profile" in order to connect. Now you would think that it would create one, but if it does not then you need to add one.

    Go to Control Panel\Network and Sharing Center and then click Manage Wireless Networks and click on the ADD button on the left and add a profile suitable for your connection, setting it to automatically connect, I guess.