Windows 2000 is still widely used. Many older machines have not been upgraded to Windows XP to save money, and Windows 2000 remains a serviceable operating system. Wireless configuration on Windows 2000 is significantly more complex than on Windows XP, in large part because it lacks solid integration between the selection of a wireless network and the corresponding security configuration.
Windows 2000 did not ship with 802.1X support from the start. It was initially added as a patch on top of Service Pack 3,[*] and was later integrated into Service Pack 4. Microsoft has not ported WPA functionality to Windows 2000, although a WPA client is available from the Wireless Security Corporation (http://www.wirelesssecuritycorp.com). Many observers feel that 802.1X support on Windows 2000 is not a priority for Microsoft, and its inclusion into recent service packs is an illustration of increased difficulty in persuading users to upgrade.
[*] See Microsoft knowledge base article 313664 for the patch.
Although 802.1X configuration has been integrated into the driver layer, Windows 2000 still depends on a card utility to configure which network the system will attach to. The separation can be particularly problematic for users who travel between an encrypted networks and unencrypted networks. Although using the card utility to switch networks is straightforward, it is usually necessary to manually enable or disable security. Windows 2000 may present network administrators with a difficult choice. If the software configuration tool bundles a third-party 802.1X stack, extra administration work must be done to separate the two.
Dynamic WEP Configuration
The Wireless Configuration Service on Windows 2000 only supports dynamic WEP for encryption. TKIP support is only possible by using a third-party supplicant. To configure dynamic WEP, set up the card's utility for use with manual WEP key. As far as the card utility is concerned, a manual WEP key is in use. Frames are dispatched by the driver to the card, to be encrypted by one of the keys stored in the card's key cache. The Wireless Configuration process, however, will push new keys into the card as required by the network's security policy.
The manual WEP key need not be configured anywhere else on the network. It must only be the correct length. For networks using 128-bit WEP, the key should be entered as 26 hexadecimal digits, such as 12345678901234567890123456. This dummy key is never used, since it is replaced by the dynamically derived key after a successful 802.1X authentication.
In my experience, the Wireless Configuration Service on Windows 2000 is not as reliable as the process on Windows XP. Several bugs have caused the service to fail after a successful authentication. Interestingly enough, the symptom of this type of failure is that the connection will be keyed succesfully, but traffic will be disrupted at the first reauthentication period. With no software running to process 802.1X frames, any attempted reauthentications or re-key operations will fail.
Introduction to Wireless Networking
Overview of 802.11 Networks
11 MAC Fundamentals
11 Framing in Detail
Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP)
User Authentication with 802.1X
11i: Robust Security Networks, TKIP, and CCMP
Contention-Free Service with the PCF
Physical Layer Overview
The Frequency-Hopping (FH) PHY
The Direct Sequence PHYs: DSSS and HR/DSSS (802.11b)
11a and 802.11j: 5-GHz OFDM PHY
11g: The Extended-Rate PHY (ERP)
A Peek Ahead at 802.11n: MIMO-OFDM
Using 802.11 on Windows
11 on the Macintosh
Using 802.11 on Linux
Using 802.11 Access Points
Logical Wireless Network Architecture
Site Planning and Project Management
11 Network Analysis
11 Performance Tuning
Conclusions and Predictions