As we worked on the Windows Vista Wireless Stack, extensibility was one of our key design goals. On previous releases, we’ve gotten a lot of feedback from hardware and software developers on how they’d like to be able to extend the wireless experience. With the new stack, we’ve tried to address as much of that feedback as possible, and we’d really like to hear what you think on how we’ve done.

 

The new stack supports two levels of extensibility: extensions for independent hardware vendors (IHVs) and Wireless LAN API for application developers or independent software vendors (ISVs).

 

IHV Extensions

These enable IHVs to implement new features and standards within the Native Wi-Fi framework at a pace which is in line with the rate of innovation in the industry.

 

IHV Extensions can control IHV specific connectivity settings, such as transmission power control, WMM admission control, 802.11n aggregation control, and so on.

 

IHV Extensions can also implement IHV specific wireless security protocols, which can be either 802.1x based or non-802.1x based. For 802.1x based authentication, IHVs can choose to implement IHV-specific cipher key derivation modules or reuse the Windows Vista 802.1x implementation.

 

IHV-specific settings are managed on a per-network profile basis. Therefore, IHVs can use different settings when connecting to different wireless networks.

 

Wireless LAN API

The Wireless LAN Win32 API enables developers to build applications that manage wireless adapters, wireless connections, and wireless profiles. The APIs consist of the following functionalities:

 

Profile Management API: Applications can enumerate wireless LAN profiles, add new profiles, replace/delete existing profiles, change profile order, and retrieve profile settings.

 

Notification API: Applications can register for wireless event notifications such as radio on/off change, scan completion, visible network changes, connection, and roaming.

 

Operational API: Applications can request the adapter to scan, connect/disconnect to/from a wireless network and query attributes of the current connection.

 

In the WinHEC 2006session “Extending Windows Vista Native Wi-Fi Capabilities”, we’ll describe the Wireless LAN APIs in details. We plan to have a demo “Site Survey” that illustrates the use of the APIs, and walks through real live code. To learn more, just post comments here, and be sure to come and join us at WinHEC 2006. Right away, you can start thinking about cool wireless applications that you want to build with the new wireless APIs, as well as API enhancements that you want to see in the future.

 

Jiandong Ruan

Software Development Engineer, Wireless Networking