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Wireless Reviews

The Product, Continued

The installation process for WinXP really is automatic, stopping only twice to ask permission: once to confirm start of the wireless driver install and a second time to see whether you want to install Buffalo's Client Manager 2 application. Note that before the first confirmation request, however, the required files are uploaded from the AI's flash memory to your computer's hard drive while a small "in progress" window is displayed. This window doesn't provide a clue as to the percent completion of the file load, which I would have liked to see.

Once the driver install starts, all dialog boxes that pop up are supplied with any required information and automatically confirmed. When the driver installation is completed you get a request to confirm installation of Buffalo's Client Manager.

Installation on a old laptop running Win98SE was a little trickier. The installation process started when I plugged in the AI, but I had to dig out my Windows installation CD when Windows couldn't find hidclass.sys while installing the USB driver. This was probably the first time I'd plugged something into the USB port since recently doing a fresh Win98 install, so most users probably wouldn't encounter this problem.

The other head-scratcher was the MS-DOS window that came up early in the install and just sat there for somewhere between 10 and 30 seconds with only a cryptic C:windowstemp > debug > null entry. I thought the install had gone south, but fortunately I decided to hang in a little longer and was relieved when more text appeared in the DOS window, indicating the installation progress. Since Win98 doesn't have the built-in wireless support included in WinXP, the Client Manager 2 installation automatically starts once the driver installs are done.

The Win98SE install appears to be done with a series of batch files that make for fascinating (ok, maybe just interesting) reading as they whiz by. Note that Buffalo's single-page printed "Quick Setup Guide" covers only some aspects of a WinXP install, and the PDF User Guide on the included CD isn't much more illuminating regarding the Win98 installation process.

I also tried the install on an XP SP1 laptop that had only a USB 1.1 port, which provided yet a different installation experience. Everything proceeded as in the XP SP2 install until the end of the wireless driver install. At that point I had a very confusing screen that displayed:

  • The standard WinXP system notification balloon that you get when installing a USB2 adapter on a USB 1.1 machine
  • A confirmation window that told me I had to reboot to complete the install
  • A confirmation window for starting the Client Manager 2 install

My quandry as to where to click first was solved, however, when I accidently hit a key while trying to capture a screen shot of this networking newbie's nightmare. Turned out that the reboot confirmation took precedence, blowing my screen capture. When the system rebooted, however, the Client Manager installation confirmation window came right up, so at least that worked out ok.

By the way, on each of the three machines that I installed the AI on, I tried uninstalling the adapter and cleaning out the obvious files that I could find in an attempt to force the auto-install process to start at the beginning. I wasn't able to get any of the machines to restart the process from scratch, but I did succeed in messing up one of my XP machines enough to force me to do a System Restore (my bad, not Buffalo's)! I don't think the inability to repeat the install from scratch is really a problem for normal users. But it if it were, Buffalo provides the drivers and client utility on CD for installation the old-fashioned way.

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