Posted by: Craig Mathias
802.11n, Wi-Fi, wireless LANs
I was reading an article yesterday on upgrading to Windows 7 – something I have no plans to do. I mostly use Macs these days, and Linux on the netbooks, but I still have eight Windows XP machines used primarily for lab and testing apps, and occasional legacy tasks. There’s no way I’m going to upgrade all of these to Windows 7. What do I get for all that time and money? The XP machines are working fine and will remain supported, as best as Microsoft does support, anyway, for two more years.
But any new PCs, again bought for client projects, testing, or use in the lab, will most assuredly be W7-based. I avoided Vista, as I’m sure many of you did, and W7, after SP1, anyway, should be mostly fine.
A similar strategy is appropriate, I think, when it comes to 802.11n. Now, if you’re still using 802.11b, it’s probably time to upgrade. .11b is woefully obsolete, no longer supported by anyone, very weak in terms of both throughput and security, and completely inappropriate, IMHO, for business use. But .11g, and, if you’re using it, .11a remain serviceable today and it’s usually not worth the effort to upgrade these. There’s no real return on investment here, since broadband links are typically limited to no more than 10 Mbps or so, and, except for backups and other bulk file transfers, 802.11n isn’t going to offer higher performance. I usually recommend upgrading in the case of larger organizations, where the improved capacity (but not necessarily per-user throughput), range, and reliability of 802.11n shine. In smaller organizations, though, .11g will continue its happy life for a few more years. Absolutely, when buying new PCs or WLAN adapters, insist on 802.11n. Make sure whatever you buy is dual band – use the 5 GHz. spectrum for best performance (there’s no interference there, at least in most cases). And, of course, gradually cut over to all 802.11n. But you don’t need to do that today.