“Should” Should be Banned

Why would my Vista machine not connect to my wireless network? At first I thought that it was down to a clash with the router. When I changed the security settings it seemed to work but then it just randomly stopped connecting.

The symptom was always the same, it could see the access point and if I hit the laptop enough times it would kind of connect locally but would claim it could not see the Internet. The little pop up in the bottom right hand corner would say “Access: Local, Limited” or something of the sort.

I tried new drivers – no use, new access point – no use, new LAN card – no use.

I had given up hope until I tried a beta  test Vista laptop on our work public wifi connection and had the same problem. At home I could run cables but at work we have to get it to work.

After much Google-fu the answer turns out to be that Microsoft read “Should” as “Must” in a standard.

It has to do with how Vista responds to DHCP. The gory details are that Vista expects the world to behave one way and a lot of access point vendors decide to behave a different way. Net result, you get limited access from Vista via wireless.

There is a fix which involves editing the Registry.

Or you can run this utility.

As it changes the Registry you need to run it as Administrator. Right-click on application and chose “Run as Administrator” and then allow the next UAC dialogue.

I have tried it on two machines and it has resolved the problem. So if you have a Vista machine and use wireless then I strongly urge you to run it. Though if it destroys your machine and/or your planet I cannot be held responsible, for anything, ever.

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