Wireless Networks and Ibook Compatability

We recently purchased a Microsoft Wireless Base Station. We have it

hooked up to provide wireless access to a personal computer laptop.

Now we want to be able to use our ibook (mac) laptop on the same

wireless network.

My question is this — can an AirPort card in the ibook access the

Microsoft wireless network?

Some product specification pages indicate that the AirPort card needs

to interface with an AirPort Base station. Others do not.

Before we spend a lot more money, we'd like to know. HELP!?! 🙂


5 thoughts on “Wireless Networks and Ibook Compatability

  1. To put it simply: Yes, your Airport Card can access base stations

    other then Airport base stations.

    In a nutshell, I know this because in our store (I work for a large

    computer reseller in Canada) we have an imac, a powermac, and from

    time to time an ibook and/or powerbook, running wirelessly on an IEEE

    802.11B (the standard that Airport uses) LAN. Our base station varies.

    Usually it's a SOHOWare CableFREE 802.11b base, however we have used

    base stations from 3com, Dlink, Belkin, and Apple.

    You probably want something a little meatier for an answer, so I'm

    going to try to provide some links for you:

    As per http://www.wi-fi.org/OpenSection/Certified_Products.asp?TID=2

    (the Wi-Fi standards group)

    Apple has had these certified:

    "Access Point

    • Apple AirPort Base Station


    • Apple AirPort Client Card


    Microsoft has had these certified:

    "Access Point

    • Microsoft Broadband Networking Wireless Base Station / MN-500

    • Microsoft Broadband Networking Wireless USB Adapter / MN-510

    PC Card

    • Microsoft Broadband Networking Wireless Notebook Adapter / MN-520


    What does this mean?

    from http://www.wi-fi.org/OpenSection/FAQ.asp?TID=2

    "What is Wi-Fi CERTIFICATION?

    To understand the value of Wi-Fi CERTIFICATION, you need to know that

    Wi-Fi is short for "Wireless Fidelity," and it is the popular name for

    802.11-based technologies that have passed Wi-FI CERTIFICATION

    testing. This includes IEEE 802.11a, 802.11b or technologies that

    contain both 802.11a and 802.11b technologies — commonly called "dual


    Wi-Fi Certification assures tested and proven interoperability among

    wireless computer equipment; this certification gives consumers and

    business buyers confidence that wireless LAN products bearing the

    Wi-Fi logo have passed rigorous interoperability certification

    requirements. Such Wi-Fi products include PCMCIA Cards for notebooks,

    PCI Cards for desktops, USB modules (which can be used with notebooks

    or desktops), and wireless base stations like access points and

    gateways. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products support a maximum data rate of

    either 11 Mbps (802.11b) or 54 MBPS (802.11a).

    Knowing that any product with the Wi-Fi logo has undergone rigorous

    testing makes your buying decision much easier."

    In essence, any WiFi certified device should be able to communicate

    with any other certified device.

    More information from that page:

    "Can I mix and match Wi-Fi components, or is it better to stay with a

    single manufacturer?

    Yes; if the component is Wi-Fi CERTIFIED for the same frequency band

    (e.g. 2.4GHz), you can mix and match wireless LAN products produced by

    different manufacturers. The Wi-Fi Alliance has all products

    independently tested before they receive the Wi-Fi Certification to

    make sure they are interoperable with all other Wi-Fi CERTIFIED

    products in the same frequency band, regardless of manufacturer."

    "Can I use Wi-Fi with my Apple Macintosh?

    Yes. You have two options. Most newer Macintosh Power PCs, G3s and G4s

    have a slot for an Apple AirPort Wi-Fi module. If you didn't order it

    when you bought your Apple computer, you can still buy the module and

    put it in yourself — installation is very simple. If you have an older

    Mac laptop with a PC Card slot, you can choose from among several

    different manufacturers who make Apple-compliant PC Card radios. USB

    adapters for Apple are also available.

    Once you have the correct PC Card radio or Apple AirPort installed,

    you need a gateway or access point to talk to. You can use the

    "official" Apple AirPort access point, or you can use any other Wi-Fi

    access point on the market. As long as it is Wi-Fi CERTIFIED, it will

    talk to your Apple Wi-Fi radios.

    Many access points and gateways now use a web-based setup routine.

    That means as long as you have an Internet browser on your computer,

    you can set up the access point.

    Once set up and configured, a network consisting of combined Apple and

    Windows computers and access points will work together. Of course,

    unless you are running an emulator program, you won't be able to run

    Windows programs on your Apple computer and vice versa. However, your

    Wi-Fi network devices will talk to each other and enable you to share

    an Internet connection and transfer files among the various


    Sharing the internet connection: Easy.

    Sharing files between Windows and Mac computers: harder. You generally

    need additional software like "Dave" to make it work.

    Remember: When we talk about the Airport card and the base station

    working together, it means that they can communicate. It doesn't

    instantly make the computers talk to each other. Kinda like the phone

    system. just because I can pick up my telephone, and use it to call

    somebody on the other side of the world on their telephone, doesn't

    mean we can actually talk to each other once we're connected. We both

    have to speak the same language.

    But I digress. I'll go on to other sites:



    "AirPort Base Station supports up to 50 Mac and PC users

    Each AirPort Base Station can support up to 50 users. AirPort complies

    with the IEEE 802.11b industry standard to allow for interoperability

    with other 802.11-compliant products.

    Wi-Fi certified

    AirPort is based on the IEEE 802.11b wireless standard and is Wi-Fi

    certified for interoperability with other 802.11-compliant products

    (including PCs). That means you can use your AirPort card at thousands

    of wirelessly-enabled locations — including airports, coffeeshops and

    at least 90,000 hotel rooms in the U.S. alone."

    Something to keep in mind: Sometimes you need to have at least one

    computer using a wireless card from the same manufacturer as your base

    station, in order to configure it.

    Example: Our CableFREE access point in the store can only be

    configured from a PC running the CableFREE utility, which will only

    runn on a PC with a CableFREE card installed.

    Apple Airport base stations are similar. I cannot buy 2 wireless PCs

    and an Airport base station and expect them to work, since the Airport

    setup utility will only run on Macs. I would need someone with a Mac

    with Airport to bring their computer over and configure the base

    station. So let's see if Microsoft has that requirement.

    I was about to list a bunch of information about how the MS base

    station needs a PC to configure it, and how you might not want to buy

    it. Then I reread your question. You have a PC notebook using the base

    station. So there is NO problem having an Airport-enabled iBook

    communicate with the base station for wireless internet access.

    There is a process to configure the Airport on the iBook. It is a

    fairly straightforward procedure, however documenting it in full is

    beyond the scope of my answer to your original quesiton. In short,

    once the airport card is installed, you open your network control

    panel (how will differ depending on your operating system version.) In

    there you change to the view for Airport instead of Ethernet. You

    enter all of the settings that your wireless network uses (SSID,

    security keys, encyption levels, etc.) and enable Airport. Voila!

    Thank you for your question. I'm hope my answer has laid your concerns

    to rest regarding the use of Airport cards with non-Airport base



  2. Hi! I've read your answer in more detail and talked to some more of

    my peers and re-read your answer. Now, I have another question. If

    apple is misleading us as to the need to use the Airport base station,

    could they not be misleading us on the card? A woman here at work has

    an applie titanium notebook and a cisco card. Could I not conceivably

    use a IEEE 802.11a or 802.11b card generally intended for a pc? They

    seem much cheaper… ??? Now, I'm being cheap (about the card, not

    the question — I"m happy to give you more $$$ for all your fantastic

    help!) 🙂


  3. Well, the person with the Ti-book and the Cisco card is able to do

    that because the Powerbook has a PC-Card or PCMCIA slot on the side of

    the laptop. This allows any standard PCMCIA card to be inserted and

    used. (Provided there are drivers for MacOS, or UNIX drivers in OSX.)

    Unfortunately, the iBook does not feature such a slot currently, nor

    does any previous model that I can recall seeing. The iBook is

    "AirPort Ready" which means there is a slot inside the notebook, under

    the keyboard for the Airport. It's very similar to a PCCard slot, and

    I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it was actually a PC-Card slot.

    However, there isn't room for a full PCCard (especially with it's

    antenna sticking out.) The AirPort card itself doesn't have an

    antenna. The iBook (and other Apple products) has an antenna built

    into the display, beside the screen. When you install the Airport

    card, there is a little cable that conencts to one end of it for the


    I also found this little nugget of information:

    "The iBook Airport card looks like a PCMCIA card, has the same form

    factor and connector, etc. However, one of the pins was adapted for

    non standard usage and, therefore, the iBook airport cards will not

    function in normal PCMCIA slots and vice versa."


    It looks like basically, Apple wants you to use an AirPort card in the

    iBook. They'd even prefer it in the PowerBook, but since a high-end

    laptop like it needs to have every bell and whistle, it's got a PCCard


    It might be feasible to use a USB wireless adapter for your iBook, if

    there was drivers available. For the convenience, I'd put the internal

    AirPort card in. You can actually take your iBook anywhere that there

    is a wireless network, and make use of it. Libraries, Airports,

    universities, coffee shope, schools, and many workplaces are

    installing wireless LANs.


  4. Sparky4ca-

    I'm so sorry that I forgot to thank you for this clarification. I got

    caught up in the xmas hullaballoo! Thank you again for all your help.

    I really really appreciate it. You were terribly informative with

    lots of good links and information. Now I feel like I can discuss

    this issue with authority. 🙂

    Do you know of any way I can add to your tip for your extra help? 🙂

  5. Actually, I've never asked a question. I don't know if there is any

    way to modify ratings/tips/etc. It's not necessary however, the 5-star

    rating you gave me is more then enough thanks.

    Enjoy the rest of the holidays!


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