Sunday, December 25, 2011

Windows Vista asking "press the configuration button on the access point"?

WOW, reason 9,746 to move to Linux. My parents have a laptop with
Vista on it. Not a big deal, should do normal stuff and not require
much attention. I set them up with anti-virus and the UAC prevents
them from doing anything too silly without seeing the "oh noes!"
pop-up. I figured they were all set.

Well, come to find out, a well-intentioned person "helped" them with
their home network and computers (they have some apples too -- I wish
it was the fruit). The wireless network was WEP with the default SSID
and they were having problems adding a new laptop to the wireless. My
father didn't know what the passphrase was to the router and asked me
for some help resetting it. I easily hit the admin web page for the
router and guessed the password. I set the network to be WPA2-PSK and
gave it a nice passphrase they could remember, and proceeded to write
it down on the router for them. Tested the connection with my wife's
smart phone and the apple laptop.

Before I left my mother asked me to set the wireless network for her
laptop... her Vista laptop. (sense of dread yet? I should have felt
it). The kids were feeling tired and the wife wanted to get home to
get ready for Christmas morning. How hard could this be? The goofy
laptop detected the wireless network, I clicked to join it and the
crazy thing said "Press the configuration button on your wireless
access point."

It might as well have asked to pet my giraffe. WTF? At the bottom
there was a link to manually enter the PSK in case I could not find
the button.. thanks, I am an idiot and can't find a button? I entered
the PSK because pressing a button on a wireless router was dumb, silly
and for stupid people who waste their time. The problem is that then
Vista had a problem and couldn't connect to the wireless. Maybe I
typed the PSK in wrong.. multiple tries and it would not work! I had
looked at the router, it was a Netgear. (sense of dread yet? I should
have felt it).

Come to find out there is a crappy thing Netgear calls WPS or Wireless
Protected Setup. This "security" feature lets you press a button and
have the Vista device negotiate a WPA passphrase with the router.
Dumb! The problem is that WPA is crap and WPA2 is where the cool kids
hang out these days. So this crap will not work with Vista as it is
WPS-aware (although Microsoft is always blazing new trails of
stupidity and dumbness and calls it "Windows Connect Now").

Now I am looking at a Vista Home Basic laptop that needs Windows
Connect Now disabled. Google tells me that I can disable it with a
local Group Policy (yay!) but the Local Group Policy Editor does not
work on Vista Home Basic as GPOs are disabled on it (boo!). I found a
xlsx spreadsheet with mapping between GPOs and their registry keys
(yay!) but am not sure how to deciper the registry entries on the
spreadsheet (boo!).

They look like this:

Who names this stuff? My main issue is what does the Exclamation
point mean? Are those end values binary values, empty string values?
Who knows. I also disabled the Windows Connect Now service and hope
that does the trick. We will see...

What crap... time for bed.

If you are a lost soul and wondered about this, please comment below..
Any fixes are appreciated!

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