I just spent 45 minutes helping a relative get his wireless network connection to work. He was used to the normal Windows XP wireless network configuration utility, but recently somehow Dell’s wireless configuration utility decided that it would like to configure the wireless card instead. The weird part is that the utility has been on there since Windows XP was installed almost two years ago, and previously it didn’t bother him. What I believe was even worst was that the Windows configuration utility had a very cryptic message talking about the Wireless Zero Configuration service and pointing to a knowledge base article number. How can the user lookup this article if he/she is having wireless connection problems?

That aside, instead of pointing the user to Wireless Zero Configuration service, the Windows XP utility should have checked that the service was running, which it was, and eliminated that as an option. Furthermore, there should be an easy way for the user to go the utility that might have offered to configure the wireless, instead of just telling the user that another program is doing it. Thinking about it, this is just one more interaction between the operating system (OS) and the program offering assistance, i.e. the new utility should tell the OS where it lives and how to run it.

Doing these two step would have saved both of us time, and who knows it might even have prevented this call!

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