To simplify the creation and configuration of wireless networks and their security settings, Windows 7 supports Windows Connect Now. This allows users to store network configuration information on a USB flash drive. To configure a wireless network, users first step through a network setup wizard that gathers their wireless network preferences. Then, Windows configures the computer with authentication and encryption settings for a protected wireless network and stores the configuration on a flash drive.
Adding new computers (running Windows XP SP2 or later, Windows Vista, or Windows 7) to the wireless network can be as simple as connecting the flash drive to each computer. Although Group Policy is the preferred way to configure domain member computers for wireless networks, flash drives offer an excellent way to grant guests access to an encrypted wireless network. Note, however, that the wireless network should be isolated from your internal networks to protect your intranet.
You can prevent users from accessing the Windows Connect Now wizards by using the Prohibit Access Of The Windows Connect Now Wizards in either the Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Network\Windows Connect Now node or the User Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Network\Windows Connect Now Group Policy node.
In addition, the Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Network\Windows Connect Now node includes the Configuration Of Wireless Settings Using Windows Connect Now setting, which provides the following options:
- Turn Off Ability To Configure Using WCN Over Ethernet (UPnP) Prevents Windows from being able to configure networked devices that support UPnP.
- Turn Off Ability to Configure Using WCN Over In-band 802.11 Wi-Fi Prevents Windows from being able to configure wireless networked devices.
- Turn Off Ability To Configure Using A USB Flash Drive Prevents Windows from being able to store a Windows Connect Now configuration to a USB flash drive. Because the Windows Connect Now information stored on a USB flash drive contains information that can allow computers to access your protected wireless network, you might choose to disable this setting to improve the security of your wireless networks.
- Turn Off Ability To Configure Windows Portable Device (WPD) Prevents Windows from being able to configure WPDs, which include portable media players, digital cameras, and mobile phones.
- Maximum Number Of WCN Devices Allowed Enables you to limit the number of Windows Connect Now devices that a computer running Windows can configure.
- Higher Precedence Medium For Devices Discovered By Multiple Media Determines which networking type is used when a device is available across both wired and wireless networks.
If you do not plan to use Windows Connect Now, you can easily disable it. The default setting for the Windows Connect Now–related Group Policy settings enables all Windows Connect Now capabilities.