Native 802.11 Support in Windows CE .NET

Windows CE .NET

Constanze Roman

July 2003

Applies to: Microsoft® Windows® CE .NET 4.2


This article provides an overview of Native 802.11 and its implementation in Microsoft Windows CE .NET 4.2. Native 802.11 provides a set of services that make it possible for a single network adapter to be dynamically configured as an access point or a station. Designed to reduce the long-term cost of goods and provide a superior end-user experience, Native 802.11 offers additional benefits to network-adapter manufacturers. These benefits include new and enhanced support for quality of service, location awareness, roaming, and other features.


Native 802.11 is an architecture for wireless local area networks (WLAN) that is integrated into the Windows CE .NET operating system. Native 802.11 is based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11 specification. This specification defines a shared WLAN standard that uses media access control (MAC) protocols that include carrier sense multiple access with collision avoidance (CSMA/CA).

Native 802.11 has a unified infrastructure, and lets you configure a wireless network adapter into either a station (STA) or an access point (AP) through a user interface. By supporting Native 802.11 miniport driver interfaces, a network adapter can take advantage of all the Native 802.11 services. These include cooperative roaming, location awareness, and power management.

Native 802.11 lets you configure a single network adapter for use both in infrastructure networks, where an AP bridges wired and wireless LANs, as well as in ad hoc networks.

Native 802.11 Support in Windows CE .NET

The Native 802.11 implementation in Windows CE .NET 4.2 supports the following features:

  • AP support: A wireless network adapter can be configured into an AP.
  • Frame translation: Native 802.11 supports IEEE 802.11-to-IEEE 802.3 and IEE 802.3-to-IEEE 802.11 frame translations.
  • Fundamental IEEE 802.11 services: Native 802.11 incorporates all of MAC upper layer functions such as MAC sub-layer fragmentation, association, and authentication services. In addition, Native 802.11 also provides MAC and physical layer management functions.
  • Basic service set (BSS) bridging: Native 802.11 supports bridging on Ethernet-type interfaces.

For More Information

For more detailed information about the Native 802.11 support in Microsoft Windows operating systems, visit this Microsoft Web site.