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Matt McSpirit on Virtualisation, Management and Core Infrastructure

Network Location Settings in Windows Vista

Network Location Settings in Windows Vista

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Set Network Location in VistaDomain Network 

Home vs Work vs Public?  Ever wondered what happens when you choose one of these selections the first time you connect to a new network?

Vista is clever.  We all know that.  In this case, Vista has the ability to automatically configure security and other settings based on the type of network to which the computer is connected. This new feature makes computing more secure and easier for users because they no longer have to be aware of the type of network that they are connected to and configure security settings to prevent unwanted access. A related feature for developers makes it easier to enhance applications by automatically adjusting settings and behaviors for changes in network conditions and for different network types.

The use of the icons, along with a useful description means that even the most non-IT savvy people among us can make an informed decision and choose the setting that is correct for their current situation.

The Cable GuyThere is also another one, that you don't get the choice of becoming part of, and that is the Domain network.  You can see this one the 2nd image above.  All the settings for this type of network are received from Group Policy, and although, the first time I connected to this network, I was presented with the usual dialog box, after this point, Vista knows I'm on a Domain network and the settings are automatically pushed to my machine.

The Cable Guy, also known as Joseph Davies, has written an excellent article going into a bit more depth around the topic, so if you are interested, I'd definitely have a look.  He's also included some information that would be relevant to developers around Network Awareness API's.

Read it here:

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  • Is there a difference between "Home" and Work"? The article you linked to doesn't say, and it is weird that if you connect to a network *after* installing Vista (say you're on a notebook and you connect through wifi), you just get "Public" and "Private" as options instead of "Home", "Work" and "Public".

  • Hi mate,

    I believe that the main difference between Home and Work is the Media Sharing option.  When you select Home, this is switched on by default, so you can therefore share music more seamlessly with others in your home who have done the same.  When you choose work, it's more or less the same, just without the media sharing I think!

    You can adjust the settings once a default has been selected, in the Network and Sharing Center, so you could technically have selected Work, but then turned Media Sharing on.



  • If I set the location to public I will be able to detect wireless around???

  • Hi,

    Setting the location is only done after you have connected to a new network, not before.  If you can't see any networks around you, changing from Private to Work to Home etc, won't have any effect - it may be an issue with your network card.

    Hope that helps,


  • How do I change it once it's been set?

  • How do I change it once it's been set?

  • Hi Walter,

    To change the setting, at least in Windows 7 anyway, you navigate into the Network and Sharing Center, and you should see, below the small map, the name of your network and a link, which you can click, and change the type of network.

    Hope that helps,


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