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Win XP: Windows Can't Configure Wireless Connection

Updated on April 24, 2015

Problem Message: Windows cannot configure this wireless connection. If you have enabled another program to manage this wireless connection, use that software.

When you are trying to connect to the wireless, sometimes you may get this message. What it means is there is a program on the computer that has requested to handle the wireless configuration and instructed Windows to not get involved. You are trying to use the Windows XP wireless utility and Windows is asking you to use the 3rd party wireless utility that took over instead.

Often on laptops, manufacturers have their own Wireless Configuration Utility or software preinstalled. This is very common on Dell laptops and some others brands as well.

You may also run into this message after you have purchased a wireless adapter and you have run the setup disc included. The setup disc most likely installed a 3rd party wireless utility to mange the connection process.

Solution #1: Use the installed wireless utility to configure the wireless

Usually if you look under your Start button and in the programs section, you should find the program controlling the wireless. You are looking for a program that often has "wireless utility" in its name. It may also be inside a folder inside programs section as well. Look thoroughly.

If you can not find it in the programs section, it may have it in the system tray (the little icons in by the time). There should be another one other than the Windows wireless that you tried before coming here. Hover over each one of them and double click any that seem like it may control the wireless.

Try setting up the wireless using the that 3rd party wireless utility.

Solution #2: Have Windows manage wireless network configuration

You can easily request to Windows to reclaim responsibility of wireless connections.

In Windows XP and 2003:

  1. Click the Start Button.
  2. Click Control Panel.
  3. Click on Network Connections.
  4. Right click on Wireless Network Connection.
  5. Choose Properties.
  6. Click the Wireless Network tab.
  7. Check the check box Use Windows to configure my wireless network settings.

NOTE: If you do not see the Wireless Network Tab, the wireless network adapter does not support Window's wireless configuration service or in simple terms, does not allow Windows to control it.

Solution #3: Try uninstalling the wireless utility

Pretty straight forward. If there is nothing installed to take over control of the wireless from Windows, Windows will regain control.

  1. Click Start.
  2. Click Control Panel.
  3. Click Add or Remove Programs.
  4. Find the offending wireless utility, click on it and choose Remove.

It would also be good to make sure that the Windows wireless service is running as well. Services are programs that run in the background that have no interface or involve your input.

  1. Click Start.
  2. Click Control Panel.
  3. Click Administrative Tools.
  4. Click Services.
  5. Find Wireless Zero Configuration and double click on it.
  6. Make sure that Startup Type has Automatic chosen. Also make sure that it is Started. If not, Start the service.

Still having problems connecting to wireless?

You would want to make sure that you know the SSID and Security Key that it set in your router. Log into your router and make sure you are using the correct information on your computer when you are trying to connect and that you do not have WPS enabled.

Also, there are some tips and tricks you can try to get connected if that does not work.


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