Do you want a guarantee with that?
But let's say you love the smell of firmware burning in the morning and just have to be on the bleeding edge of technology. Will you have any sort of safety net from those friendly folks who are fanning the flames of your techno-lust? As you might expect, manufacturers are being careful what they say, since they realize what "draft" means, even if they don't want you to think much about it!
I asked Linksys, Buffalo Tech, Belkin, Actiontec and NETGEAR: "Will you guarantee that your draft-802.11g products will operate with 802.11g released spec products?" Here are their exact responses:
Linksys (from an emailed response)
Linksys 54G Products are guaranteed compatible with other 54G products, as listed on www.54g.org. The are also compatible with 802.11b products. The 802.11g standard has not been finalized. While we suspect that no more than a firmware or driver may be necessary to become 802.11g compliant, we cannot guarantee compatibility with a standard that is not official.
Buffalo Technology(posted on their 54g product webpages)
NOTE TO OUR CUSTOMERS:
As you may know, IEEE802.11g is slated to be certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance in mid 2003. We understand this could affect current 802.11g technology. We are dedicated to ensuring that our customers have the most current and reliable products available on the market today. If the certification materially changes the principal operating features of our pre-standard 802.11g products, we will replace or upgrade any of those products at no charge and provide toll-free technical support. We thank you for your loyalty and confidence in our products.
NETGEAR (from an emailed response)
Our official statement is: "The NETGEAR models WG602 (AP) and WG511 (PC Card) are designed and developed to the draft standard of the IEEE 802.11g specification."
With that said, if the ratification materially changes the principle operating features, NETGEAR expects that a simple firmware upgrade will be available to customers, at no charge, via the Support website. At this time, we can't guarantee this.
Actiontec (from an emailed response)
No, we cannot guarantee it as we do not know what the final spec will look like.
However, we do expect that the changes will only require a firmware update, which we will offer free of charge.
Belkin (from an emailed response) Revised March 31, 2003
(Belkin has changed their position.)
Our official guarantee is: Our 54g Wireless Networking products are firmware and drive upgradeable, and we will provide the upgrades on our website if any are necessary.
If you read the above statements carefully, you'll see that only Buffalo Technology is offering a guarantee that its draft-11g products will work with released 802.11g products.
KEY POINT #5: Don't assume that your draft-802.11g product is guaranteed to interoperate with, or work as well as, released 802.11g products.