Microsoft joins 802.11g Wlan game in US

Microsoft introduced 802.11g-based wireless networking gear yesterday, catching up with rivals Cisco Systems, Netgear and D-Link...

Microsoft introduced 802.11g-based wireless networking gear yesterday, catching up with rivals Cisco Systems, Netgear and D-Link Systems.

On offer in Microsoft's wireless Lan line are an 802.11g access point with four-port Ethernet switch, the Microsoft Wireless Base Station MN-700, and wireless cards for portable computers and desktops, the Wireless Notebook Adapter MN-720 and Wireless PCI Adapter MN-730 respectively.

Microsoft also introduced an adapter for the Xbox game console, the Xbox Wireless Adapter MN-740. This 802.11g adapter allows gamers to make their Xbox part of a wireless network, removing the need to run cables to the game console for the Xbox Live online gaming service.

The base station offers easy installation through wizards and has a parental control feature. Users can restrict access to specific websites by clients on the wireless network. Software updates can be installed automatically and WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) security is enabled by default.

The 802.11g technology supports transmission speeds up to 54Mbps (bits per second), much faster than the 11Mbps supported by the popular 802.11b standard. Both standards operate in the 2.4GHz band, allowing 802.11b cards to work with an 802.11g access point.

Wi-Fi certification for the new Microsoft 802.11g products was completed last month, product manager Todd Greenberg said.

The new products are available only in the US and Canada.

Expected street price for the base station is $100. The notebook and desktop adapters will retail for $80, while a combo pack of base station and notebook adapter, the Wireless Notebook Kit MN-820, will cost $170. The Xbox adapter will cost $129.

Microsoft will sell its existing 802.11b products alongside the new 802.11g line.

Microsoft entered the Wlan fray with 802.11b-based products last year, allowing users to share internet connections, printers and files between computers wirelessly.

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service

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