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Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008

I don't have any post relating to how I get to know computers in general and why I choose a career in software development, in fact I needed to do that, since I need to continue a meme that a friend of mine forwarded to me.  I'll try to do that sometime later, but suffice to say that it's quite lengthy.  Because of my (yet to posted) background, I usually install stuff myself and fiddle quite a bit with computers by myself.

I had installed quite a bit of Windows-based Microsoft OS, from Windows 95 beta thru Vista; and it is getting easier to do these installations due to the ability to virtualize stuff, so you don't need to have the physical hardware for it.  I wanted to try out the VS2010 CTP a couple of months back, so I decided to install Windows Server 2008 to my laptop, since I'd like to be able to run VS2010 with multiple processors thru 2008's Hypervisor.  I didn't think I'd hit much snags, but I got confused when trying to set up the wireless connection.

Once the OS is installed, I went to Device Manager to install the driver for the wireless card; everything went fine.  So, I then tried to Connect to Network - the dialog only shows that Windows can't find any network. 

Going thru the Set up a connection or network, eventually brought me back to this same dialog.  I was very confused, and reading the help didn't enlighten me any.

One of the reason this situation occur is because I'm actually installing on a physical PC; my installs in the past 2 years have been in Virtual PCs - which meant all network connection are essentially bridged from the guest OS, thus the VPC system will have its Network (the ethernet network by default, not wireless) to use its host OS network connection.  I remembered when installting Vista & XP on a physical PC, wireless almost always work after the driver is installed.  What's going on here?

On a new Windows Server 2008 install, when you log in, there's this Initial Configuration Task window that shows up; I looked there and near the bottom there's this mention of Adding Features. 

I clicked it and to my surprise, the last entry is about Wireless Configuration.  I promptly installed it.

With it installed, now the dialog display the list of wireless networks that the computer detects.  So I clicked on mine and tried to connect; it fails, just saying that Windows can't connect; the diagnostic dialog didn't really help either. 

The wireless setup is also different than the ones I remember in XP - in XP, I would usually just set up my wireless connection manually.  How would I do that in Server 2008?

That option is available in the Network and Sharing Center, thru the option of Manage Wireless Networks.  It took me awhile to look for this, since before installing Wireless configuration, that option wasn't available, so I didn't start looking there.

 

With that option, I went thru setting up a connection profile manually; even though the dialogs are different, but the information requested is much more familiar to me.  After successfully adding my network, I tried to connect to it again - which still fails.

At this point, since I know my wireless network setup, it's a matter of changing properties of my network profile.  I have a pretty weird setup, where I set my 'Network Authentication' to Shared, the default is Open, and will cause any attempt to connect to my wireless network to fail.  At least I know that's the problem because I've been stumped by that before.  Switching this, makes everything work again.

Moral of the story:
1. Always know your wireless network settings, especially ones that are different than typical defaults and cause connection issues.  This is a no brainer - if you don't know what you're doing, prepare to spend lots of time experimenting the first time around.
2. Playing with Virtual PCs is nice; however you eventually have to do a physical installation to gain experience because that's where sometimes things behave differently than installing in Virtual PCs.
3. Windows evolve over time; can't expect your past knowledge to fully support your current need - some things do change.
4. With the opt-in approach, Server 2008 does NOT install wireless support out of the box.  Even though it makes sense to some extent (most servers don't really have wireless NICs, they have physical gigabit NICs), but in this case it held up my experiment for an extra half hour.

Another tip: I usually set up my SSID to not be broadcast; and Windows Server 2008 will show an Unnamed Network in its list. 

It's a good thing when I installed Server 2008, I decided to make it be broadcast, to make things easier to set up, since I know it's usually something that causes problems.  Ubuntu for instance (at least in my installation a couple of months back) can't connect to a non-SSID broadcasting wireless network.  Unfortunately, when I then made this change (switch my router to not broadcast SSID anymore), Windows Server 2008 refuses to automatically connect to my wireless network when I rebooted the machine.

My hypothesis of this behavior is that Windows will scan available networks, can't find the one with any of the names of wireless network profiles that are set up and then fails there.  I know for sure Vista & XP doesn't behave like this, so whether this is because it's a Server OS, thus the behavior differs, or maybe it's related to my particular wireless card's driver or something else it's a possibilitiy.  The image below shows the list of wireless network profiles I've set.

The only way I can get this to connect automatically (when I have my router to not broadcast SSID) is to change the profile's setting to try to connect even when it's not broadcasting. 

I think it's a security hazard, so I usually just change this setting manually (which will allow the system to connect to my unbroadcast SSID network) then change it back.

posted on Friday, January 30, 2009 7:13 AM Print
Comments
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Atthaphong
2/8/2009 10:11 AM
Thanks a lot,
When I click to diagnose it.
Windows told me it was driver problem.

You post help me!
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
steve
2/18/2009 9:16 PM
Thanks, saved me loads of time!
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
CasperFelix
3/2/2009 3:31 PM
Thanks, it also saved me loads of time!
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Ahmed Mansoor
4/13/2009 3:51 AM
God bless you , you made my day today. I was confused from this settings from last three days.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Balu
5/14/2009 8:37 AM
GOOD one. Finally found a good solution. Thanks alot.
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# re:Not Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
ducnvtk4
7/8/2009 3:17 AM
I not performace with Add Features, when I try performance then system appear a message error:
windows server Initial configuration tasks has stopped working
a problem caused the program to stop working correctly windows will close the program and
notify you if a solution is available

Help me Help me
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
marcel
7/29/2009 4:12 AM
Thanks man, got it working. I was just about ready to send the adapter back to the vendor.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
gordon
8/25/2009 9:35 AM
Thanks so much. Spent a couple of hours trying to get this working and you saved me just before I gave up.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Rick
9/19/2009 6:41 PM
Thanks mate, I've been at this problem most of the afternoon. You save me a lot more frustration. Cheers!
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
haraldo
10/27/2009 3:27 AM
Thanks a bunchloads mate! It made my wirless work on windows server 2008, on a Dell Latitude D810 :-))
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Dmitri
11/12/2009 9:50 PM
AWESOME POST!!!
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Sir Lord
11/15/2009 6:48 AM
Why I was so laaaate to find your post?????

Thanks a lot MAN!!!!
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
al
1/4/2010 8:57 AM
Thanks! I spent a lot of time combing thru configurations but true to ms, it has to be service related.

You saved me!
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Amin Sadeghi
1/13/2010 12:23 AM
This occurs not only on virtual PC software, but also on all fresh installations. The first time I installed WS2008 on my laptop, I thought there's a problem with Atheros driver. But later I realised this happens on PC computers as well. Thank you very much for the piece of advice. It's very useful!
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
pavan
2/24/2010 11:26 PM
net connected
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
margarita
2/26/2010 4:28 AM
THX,good work
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Anil
4/10/2010 8:08 PM
Thanks. Good Work.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Al-Mamun Akanda
4/16/2010 12:52 AM
Thanks a lot dear.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Anand
4/24/2010 4:52 AM
Really nice one... I was digging into network adapter setting to find wht was wrong... this helped me
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
smith
5/7/2010 6:15 AM
I'm a PC and I make everything harder than it should be. Thanks for the help, dude. Did the trick. You wouldn't think enabling wireless service would be an Easter egg.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
abbi
5/28/2010 6:23 AM
i luove you man ... spent ages to find this ...
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Raptor007
5/31/2010 9:24 AM
Thank you so much! I use Server 2k8 at home and needed wi-fi. Couldn't figure this out until now - again thank you so much!
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Bill
6/2/2010 7:27 AM
thank so much
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
tralev
6/24/2010 12:26 AM
I've spent around 3 hours to determine whats happening with wireless adapter.. Can't say you saved my live, but that piece of info concerning "add features" - it made me happy like a baby. =) Thanks.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Rajesh
7/9/2010 5:46 PM
Thank You so much friend for the post
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
R Kimaryo
7/19/2010 4:10 AM
You saved me a lot of time. Thanks for posting.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Real
7/25/2010 12:53 AM
Thank you very much
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# you are the best
Ahmadzai
7/27/2010 9:49 PM
your are the best welldon
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Chris
8/26/2010 2:07 PM
Thanks a thousand times.

you've save me alot.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Manuel
9/25/2010 4:30 AM
Thank you much, this post is awesome and saved me a lot of time
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Ray
10/2/2010 4:52 AM
Dude, you totally rock! I was beating the crap out myself trying to figure out why I could get every driver to work except for wireless.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
AFS
3/27/2011 4:24 AM
Thanks Mate! Couldn't figure out why my NIC wasn't seeing any Networks. Enabling the Wireless LAN Service Feature resolved the issue.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Gevorg
5/23/2011 10:57 PM
thank you, you rescued me!!!
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Nick
9/23/2011 4:07 AM
very detailed, helped a lot. Thanks
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Ygor (From Brazil)
10/2/2011 11:54 AM
thanks, very good your tutorial!!! helped me a lot!!
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Gurjit Gill
10/18/2011 9:13 PM
Sincere Thanks. Yeah it work absolutely right.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Walt
1/21/2012 5:54 AM
You're a genius. When you come to think of it, there wouldn't be any need to have wireless for a server. I am installing Server 2008 on a laptop to experiment with virtualization. Thanks for posting this solution.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Dinal
3/20/2012 3:34 PM
great job.. Thanks very much
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Alex
4/23/2012 12:46 PM
exactly what I was looking for! thanks.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
jumanx
5/3/2012 4:58 PM
Excellent article and tutorial.
I got my wireless up.
moreover makes me feel I am not the only one installing server 2008 on a laptop.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Ron
5/27/2012 3:54 AM
Thanks worked for me
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Ali Abid
5/30/2012 10:39 PM
Thanks mate :) I am delighted and i dont know how to say thanks and I was struggling to find the solution thanks a million. God bless.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Hayk
6/19/2012 10:22 AM
Thank you very much!
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
rafa
7/14/2012 5:57 PM
mucho grasias
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
siddhans
8/15/2012 7:25 AM
thanks,I found a right solution
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Mieko
9/10/2012 3:30 PM
Thank you very much for this post. I was dealing with this problem and was tearing my hair out figuring out the problem. Thanks :) :) :)
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Florante M. Laguit
11/19/2012 8:31 PM
It is Informative because this help me. Thank You!!!
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Flavio from Brasil
11/29/2012 9:44 AM
Amazin trend, I have the issue in a Acer Aspire 5741z-4888 , and in some foruns people said until that will not have drivers for windows server 2008 in acer home page. Bingo, You strugle man. My wireless now is working.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
bodhi926
2/6/2013 3:49 AM
your a life saver! I WAS STUMPED. and ive been around windows for awhile, but it is the new microsoft thinking "everything is turned off by default"
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Tuyen Nguyen
3/2/2013 6:19 AM
Thank you.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
K
3/15/2013 4:50 AM
Thanks a lot it was very useful information. But i did all this and i still cannot detect any network and i do not have the "manage wireless connections" links in my network and sharing window and the network icon on task bar still carries a red cross mark. Any suggestions
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
amielitoiho
8/7/2013 1:26 PM
Great! Thanks a lot.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
chandrashekar
9/11/2013 3:07 AM
thank u
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
harry
9/12/2013 11:52 PM
Tnks man.. It work very well
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
mars1
9/30/2013 2:04 AM
Thank you Sir!
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
You are the man
11/4/2013 3:07 PM
Thank you.
Windows told me it was the driver problem.

thank you so much for sharing this with us.
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
fahd
4/1/2014 8:24 AM
Thank you
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# re: Enabling Wireless Network in Windows Server 2008
Tim S.
7/2/2014 7:44 AM
Thank you. I installed Win Server 2008 on my old Dell D810 to use for HL7 interface testing (Mirth, Rhapsody, Iguana.) Your post helped me to avoid routers/cables.

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