Overview of Deploying a Wireless LAN

Applies To: Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista

To provide authorization and authentication, automatic IP address assignment, and name resolution for wireless users, your networking infrastructure should include the following services:

  • Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS)

  • Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) servers and proxies

  • A certificate infrastructure, also known as a public key infrastructure (PKI)

  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) services

  • Domain Name System (DNS) services

These services together provide the security, availability, and scalability needed for a wireless local area network (WLAN) solution. Before you start to deploy an enterprise WLAN, all the supporting components and services in your networking infrastructure should be in place.

All the components that are required for an enterprise WLAN solution are included with Windows Server 2008 and the Windows Vista, and Windows XP. Windows Server 2008 includes DHCP, DNS, Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS), and support for RADIUS (through the Network Policy Server [NPS]), the IEEE 802.1X standard, and certificate authentication.

Computers running Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP that are equipped with wireless network adapters provide support for wireless devices such as portable computers and personal digital assistants (PDAs), the IEEE 802.1X standard, and certificate authentication.


Although WLAN-related components are included in Windows Server 2008 Standard, Windows Server 2008 Enterprise, and Windows Server 2008 Datacenter operating systems, there are differences in the levels of features supported and the capabilities. For information about differences in these services among the Windows Server 2008 operating systems, see Help and Support in for Windows Server 2008.

After designing your enterprise WLAN and deploying the networking components and services needed for the WLAN, you will be able to maintain a secure and manageable wireless network by using supported features such as:

  • The Wireless Network (IEEE 802.11) Policies Group Policy extension in Windows Server 2008.

  • WLAN AutoConfig service, included on wireless client computers running Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista.

  • The Wireless Zero Configuration service included on wireless client computers running Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

  • RADIUS-based 802.1X authentication, and interoperability with other networking services.