HelpWithWindows Newsletter
 26 March 2005, Vol 8 No. 12

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Microsoft Details Some of Longhorns Networking Features

by Arie Slob

Hello Windows users,

Windows Longhorn Last Tuesday, Microsoft released some details of the networking features that will be included in Longhorn, the next generation Windows operating system currently scheduled for a release in early 2006.

The details where released during a Web chat discussing Longhorn's Networking features, and chaired by Join Jawad Khaki, Corporate Vice President of the Networking and Devices Technologies division at Microsoft.

According to Khaki, Wireless Networking will have the latest 802.11i security support. The 802.11i standard includes two main developments: Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). IEEE's 802.11i specifications to beef up security on 802.11 wireless networks were ratified last year June.

Other improvements in 802.11i are:

  • key caching to allow quick re-attachment to servers when you return
  • pre-authentication for fast roaming among access points in a network

Khaki also said that: "The WiFi stack is being rewritten to include a new driver model that exposes 802.11 concepts rather than trying to just look like Ethernet. The extensibility features allow hardware developers to add support for extra features. There will be a public API for configuration of wireless networks, as well as support for group policy, scripting and diagnostics."

"Longhorn will offer a new, integrated IPv4/IPv6 stack optimized for low-speed wireless and multi-gigabit networks." Khaki continued. "The new stack will have extensibility to enable easy integration with third-party products, such as firewalls, parental controls and virus products. We will also have enhancements to provide easy diagnostics to help users and network managers to easily troubleshoot problems."

Low-speed wireless networks are (for example) GPRS (mobile phone) networks, which typically have a slow speed & high latency.

Khaki also disclosed that Network Access Protection (NAP) will be part of the Longhorn client. Previously scheduled for release in Longhorn Server, some features are now going to be included in the client version.

Network Access Protection (NAP) is a policy enforcement platform built into the Microsoft Windows operating system that allows IT professionals to set policy, which restricts clients from accessing a network until the clients can prove policy compliance.

In "real life" this would mean that System Administrators can set policies, that (for example) when a laptop computer is connected to their network, it will not be allowed to join before NAP has made sure that it has anti-virus protection running & up-to-date, and all (security) patches are installed on the laptop. This will reduce the chance that an infected laptop would be able to join the network, and spread the infection it carries.

For more information on NAP, see this Microsoft Web page.

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