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Windows 7 networking features explained

FAQ: HomeGroup, DirectAccess, VPN Reconnect & more


As the launch of Microsoft's new operating system is just days away, we look at how to network PCs running the OS.

VPN Reconnect

Roaming users rely on Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to provide a secure connection between their computer and the internal company network. When a user is sitting in a hotel room, or in a conference room at a customer site, and establishes a VPN connection, the user's PC will generally remain connected unless there is some other network issue that interrupts the connection.

However, users who rely on wireless broadband connectivity to establish a VPN connection while on the move are faced with frequent dropped connections and a cumbersome process for reauthenticating and reestablishing the VPN connection each time.

The VPN Reconnect feature allows Windows 7 to automatically re-establish active VPN connections when internet connectivity is interrupted. As soon as Windows 7 reconnects with the internet, Windows 7 will also reconnect with the VPN.

The VPN will still be unavailable as long as the internet connection is down, and the process of reconnecting will take a few seconds after internet access becomes available again, but VPN Reconnect will ensure that users stay connected with the network resources they need access to.

VPN Reconnect is basically an IPSec tunnel using the IKEv2 (Internet Key Exchange) protocol for key negotiation and for transmission of ESP (Encapsulating Security Payload) packets. ESP is part of the IPSec security architecture that provides confidentiality, authentication of data origin, and connectionless integrity.

In situations such as viewing streaming video over a VPN connection while on a train, users typically lose all buffered data and have to start the video over every time connectivity is lost. The features of the IKEv2 IPSec tunnel and ESP help ensure a persistent connection even if the IP address changes during the reconnect and allows the streaming video to resume from the point it was at when VPN connectivity was lost.

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NEXT PAGE: DirectAccess

  1. The important points to remember when networking PCs running the new OS
  2. VPN Reconnect
  3. DirectAccess
  4. Windows Server 2008 R2 Required


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