Microsoft fixes wireless glitch

Microsoft has released a software update to correct connection problems with network gear it unveiled in mid-September. The fix could resolve problems in the company's 802.11b wireless, or Wi-Fi, and Ethernet hubs that either dropped connections with local computers or with Internet service providers. Users started reporting problems soon after the network gear appeared in stores around Oct. 1.

The glitches are a bit of a black eye for Microsoft, as they reflect upon the company's expansion into an important new hardware category--home-networking gear. Microsoft unveiled 10 wired and wireless networking products, including hubs and USB adapters, in mid-September. Rival Linksys has a commanding lead in the category, where analysts note that Microsoft's network gear is priced higher than competing products after mail-in rebates.

For the first nine months of the year, Linksys held a 57.8 percent share of the market for network gear sold at retail, according to NPDTechworld. D-Link followed with 12.3 percent, and NetGear captured the No. 3 spot with 11 percent. Belkin, with 6.9 percent share, took the fourth position. Apple took the last of the top five spots with 3.5 percent. NPDTechworld has not yet tabulated sales for October, which would be the first month to include Microsoft.

"It's good that they've been able to get the update out," said NPDTechworld analyst Stephen Baker. "It's unfortunate they had this problem. But it's not unexpected, because problems have deviled this category before."

Microsoft released an update to the firmware--that is, software coding that can be entered into programmable ROM--late Friday, in limited fashion through a newsgroup posting. The update was not available from the company's Broadband Networking Web site.

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News source: ZDNet

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