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By Carol Ellison  |  Posted 2004-05-12 Print this article Print

: The mouse effect"> The Microsoft Mouse, after all, effectively defined point-and-click computing on the PC. Together with Solitaire, the Microsoft Mouse introduced text-oriented veterans of the DOS environment to point-and-click. The mouse also provided Microsoft with a tidy revenue stream—but its real value came in driving public acceptance of Windows. Fast forward to September 2002, when Microsoft introduced its first 802.11 hardware bundle—a cable, an access point and a wireless network interface card. It was a wireless network in a box, an easy-to-install package designed to jump-start home users in the world of wireless. But, so what? The industry did not need Microsoft to get there, and neither did the SOHO market.
Linksys, Netgear, D-Link and the other vendors of affordable devices had already succeeded in defining—and delivering to—an eager market of SOHO users. Those companies already enjoyed a formidable presence on retail shelves; Microsoft was more at home on the other side of the computer store.
Whats more, those companies were already engaged in a price war that has since brought 802.11b offerings to near-giveaway prices, and is now rapidly bringing 802.11g products into the budget range of most PC-owning consumers. Microsofts foray into Wi-Fi hardware barely merits analysis. The companys accomplishments on the software side of Wi-Fi development, on the other hand, show what Microsoft can do when it sticks to what it does best. Next page: The PEAP stitch

Carol Ellison is editor of's Mobile & Wireless Topic Center. She has authored whitepapers on wireless computing (two on network security–,Securing Wi-Fi Wireless Networks with Today's Technologies, Wi-Fi Protected Access: Strong, Standards-based Interoperable Security for Today's Wi-Fi Networks, and Wi-Fi Public Access: Enabling the future with public wireless networks.

Ms. Ellison served in senior and executive editorial positions for Ziff Davis Media and CMP Media. As an executive editor at Ziff Davis Media, she launched the networking track of The IT Insider Series, a newsletter/conference/Web site offering targeted to chief information officers and corporate directors of information technology. As senior editor at CMP Media's VARBusiness, she launched the Web site, VARBusiness University, an online professional resource center for value-added resellers of information technology.

Ms. Ellison has chaired numerous industry panels and has been quoted as a networking and educational technology expert in The New York Times, Newsday, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, CNN Headline News, WNBC and CNN/FN, as well as local and regional Comcast and Cablevision reports. Her articles have appeared in most major hi-tech publications and numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor.

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