Problems with Wireless adapter on Windows XP SP3

May 22, 2008

Last week my computer finally decided to give-in and crashed.

I have a very solid IBM ThinkPad T43, which I like a lot; Its been thru quite a lot with me (including one time it climbed down the stairs all by it self, and survived). It wasn’t a hardware problem, it was pure software chaos. After a year of abuse, my Windows installation had so many errors, I just had to re-format the machine.

I’ve decided to give my self a bit of an easier life, so I used nLite to create an unattended installation of Windows XP with SP3 slipstreamed, some drivers, etc.

After a very quick installation (really, it took something like 20 minutes!), the computer was up, and ready to receive my usual bunch of software I’m installing.
I’ve started by installing some updates, and anti-virus, and moved to a nice IBM application called “Access Connections” which is a nice network profiles’ switcher, that switches automatically between my network places (home, office, wireless home, etc.).

Then I saw the problem. AC (Access Connections) didn’t work. It didn’t control my wireless card, etc.

I started digging into the problem, read some, checked Lenovo’s support site, but I couldn’t find nothing.

I’ve tried different drivers  and versions. Reinstalling parts. Removing and reinstalling AC, and so on and so forth.

After a couple of days like that, I even reinstalled XP from scratch, using my neat slipstreamed CD.

Nothing had worked.

I was so frustrated by that, so I thought of restoring IBM’s original installation (ThinkPads has this cool feature).

And then an idea popped to thru my head: I was using a slipstreamed XP CD, which had SP3 slipstreamed.
SP3, not SP2 as I used to.

So before reverting back, I started reading what ever I can about SP3, and I’ve found this great article:

Windows XP SP3, What You Can Expect

And from that to this one:

Windows Vista Security and Data Protection Improvements

After reading these, I’ve checked SP3’s new services on my machine. I saw that most of them are related to one another in some way, and I’ve noticed that they were all set to “Manual” operation.

I’ve started to play with them, and switch these two on:

– Extensible Authentication Protocol Service
– Network Access Protection Agent

I also set them to run automatically.

And here we go, everything works. The wireless is working, AC is working, all is back to normal.

Short conclusion

I read a bit about those services, and I think that what happened is that the new AC version, took over Wireless Zero Configuration (WCZ) and were using that. WCZ, in its turn was failing due to the fact that the above services were off.
I think that WCZ was trying to validate the network using NAP (Network Access Protection Agent) and failed.

But why were the services off (or set to manual operation)?

This one is an nLite problem. I was using a version that weren’t yet familiar with SP3, and there for set those automatically to manual, to save on system’s resources.


Update November 2008

I’ve got quite a bunch of comments to my mail, saying that this procedure didn’t work for them. It got me curious thinking that I probably did something else, which I didn’t mention here.

So I went through it again – formatted me machine (it needed formatting anyway) and used the same installation, and so on.

When I got to the wireless part, I noticed that there’s a chance for another error:

My T43, has an Intel 2200BG card. It appears, that with SP3, XP looses the ability to turn the card on or off. The reason for that, I think (didn’t manage to create a test scenario yet), is the enhanced security.

To resolve this thing, you can install Intel’s software. The application adds a small icon to your task bar, and a wireless manager that looks something like that:

(Image taken from Intel’s site)

After installing that, and doing the above changes, Access Connections will start working again.

Now, if you are like me, you wouldn’t want the extra application. So, to shut it off, you should remove the following items from your registry:

Go to “HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run” and remove the following two entries:
– IntelZeroConfig
– IntelWireless

Reboot, and you’re done.

Hope it helps, I’ll be happy to know if it did (or didn’t…). Thanks or all the comments so far Happy

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  1. A.J.May 28, 2008 ב 23:44

    Thank you! I broke my head for many hours trying to figure this out.

    Well done.


  2. Brad ScottJune 11, 2008 ב 19:46

    I can’t seem to get Access Connections working even enabling these services. I used an official slipstreamed disc (downloaded through MS’s volume licensing site), but I can’t seem to get this working on my T43 at all.

  3. JoeJune 11, 2008 ב 22:18

    Hey Brad,

    I’ll be happy to try and help you out with this if you’ll contact me (you can use the about form).

    What did you try already?

    Good luck.

  4. Dr. DukeAugust 15, 2008 ב 08:14

    I have the same problem, a t43p and it just can’t get the sp3 working with the wireless. It just does not recognize it.

    I have tried the options you mentioned above. just not worked. I did download the professional sp3 and installed.

    I have reinstalled ibm access connections and the driver for the wireless lan.

    I have have had to go to restore a few times now to get my networking working.

    I am currently on my girlfriends computer working n this

    going back and forth the t42p

    thanks if you can help

  5. Richard KasperowskiOctober 27, 2008 ב 13:32

    Thanks for the tip. I had a similar problem. I solved it by removing ThinkPad Access Connections and letting Windows manage the WiFi connection.

  6. Iain WatermeyerOctober 31, 2008 ב 02:59

    Hiya Joe,

    Thanks for the input so far. Alas it has not sorted my problem. I can see the network i want to connect to, but it will not allow me access. I did the two changed mentioned above, but no joy. Sorry, i should mention that it is XP and SP3 did a number on me 🙁
    Oddly enough…my wireless operates at work, but my home network just refuses to cooperate. Any ideas on what can be done?

    really annoyed by this MS balls up!

    thanks in advance

  7. CepeditaNovember 13, 2008 ב 21:57

    I spent 3 dyas trying to solve the issue with my wireless network, after reading and searching I gave up… but not completly, I was risky enough and went into my services console, ( Start >> Run >> services.msc
    once in the services I went through them and found that telnet was set to disable and not running, I enabled it and started it also set it to automatic, I went further and also Network Connection was set to manual, I set it to automatic, reboot my PC and retried,… nothing, but them I type in my internet browser which took me to my secure network router ( ofcorse I was wired to the network ) from there I went into my wireless security settings, I copied the encripted key and went back to my wireless connection window, selected my network and hit connect, when pront for network key instead of entering the manual key I had stablesh when setting up my secured network, I entered the encripted key from the router page, BINGO!!! connected now.

    Windows XP Professional SP3
    Linksys Router N
    HP m7760n Media center PC built in wireless
    Wireless security mode: WPA persoanl
    encription type: TKIP
    network mode: Mixed

    Hope some of you can also benefit from this, since I spent all this time and went through all this pain, I do not wish anybody this, so take advantage if you could.

  8. myrrhNovember 19, 2008 ב 03:11

    Hey Joe,
    You Sir are a life-saver.
    I updated from SP2 to SP3 about three weeks ago. Only tested my WiFi (w/ Access Connections,) today. Thought SP3 destroyed my Wireless.

    I use a T61 and was about to curse SP3 to high heaven. Fortunately, I had a second partition with WinXP SP2 installed and it worked there; told me my HW still works. A Google search pointed me to you.

    Let me reiterate that… “you sir are a life-saver.”

  9. JoshDecember 2, 2008 ב 00:58

    Joe you have just saved me from having to clean up a computer I was about to smash with a sledge hammer! I spent hours trying to fix the problem, when all the hours of frustration caused by MS could have been solved so easily. Thanks again! w00t

  10. Jay LeporeDecember 14, 2008 ב 19:54

    I spent days on this one determined to figure out what went wrong and why. It wasn’t until your post Joe that I had something solid.

    After following the above procedure I still did not have resolution although I could see the various wireless connections available I couldn’t lock on.

    I then removed completely the Thinkpad Connections software, rebooted and it worked like a charm.

    THANKS FOR SAVING OUR CUSTOMER LOTS OF DOWN TIME and teaching us a little something in the process.


    Jay Lepore

  11. SelmerJanuary 23, 2009 ב 14:30

    Thanks a million Joe – works like a charm 🙂

  12. scottMarch 11, 2009 ב 23:24

    i tried this fix, it did fix the problem, but only when the T43 is plugged into an AC power source, if i start it up while running off the battery it gives me a driver error when i hit fn+f5 and the wifi NIC doesnt even turn on… any ideas?

  13. scottMarch 13, 2009 ב 18:52

    i think i found out my problem, battery settings in the bios, when it is set to optimized it doesnt work, if i switch it to maximum it seems to be working everytime.

  14. MartinMay 7, 2009 ב 04:43

    Hi, Thanks for your sugestions. I did the 2 things you said:

    switch these two on:

    – Extensible Authentication Protocol Service
    – Network Access Protection Agent

    I also set them to run automatically.

    And after that I still had the drop down speed problem, and even disconnect/connect.

    I did download the Intel utility you sugested but it did not work for me.

    Than I checked if they had any new driver for the Intel wireless chip. They refered me to go my notebook vendor to get it. But HP latest update was 2007 for these drivers.

    I checked if Intel had newer version, and indeed they have 2009 version.

    Installed it and all Ok now.

  15. TharaJuly 11, 2009 ב 19:32

    hi! I would really appreciate some help. I have a thinkpad T42, which i have had for a long time, and all of a sudden, my wireless has stopped detecting any networks. COMPLETELY! the radio is on, and the modem is fine, but my computer just refuses to connect. I have tried repairing the connection, but i have no idea what’s going on. Would really appreciate help here. thanks so much

  16. TharaJuly 12, 2009 ב 03:04

    hi! i recently started having some problems with my computer. The wireless suddenyl refuses to connect to the networks. It says I have an invalid IP address. I can detect the networks, but just can’t connect. I’ve tried repiring the network, but nothing’s working.

    I use a T42. Not sue what service pack. Would really appreciate some help

  17. JoeAugust 3, 2009 ב 03:56

    Hello Thara,
    Sorry for the late reply.
    Did you try to uninstall the wireless driver and then reinstalling it?

  18. citebaidOctober 11, 2009 ב 02:57

    no coment but a problem. since instaling sp3 i get local area network cable unpluged.i do not have a cable just a wifi adapter pluged into a usb port. can you help,at 73 years thing get somewhat confustng

  19. ViksJanuary 23, 2010 ב 10:28

    Grt8 work joe,

    But i have ibm t42 laptop and intel(R)pro/wireless LAN 3B mini adapter in it.

    My issue is that my wireless connects to the network but i cant access internet…

    But If i put laptop in standby and login again it starts working…..

    plz help me…I tried searching web but found nothing plz help joe….yu r the only ray of hope to me