VPNs in Vista – yes, and OneCare again

So I installed two of the three VPNs I need on my Vista machine.

First: isn’t there a proper UI somewhere to connect to networks? I hate that stupid “Connect to a network” window… The UI is horrible. I have to scroll up and down like crazy to get past the list of available wireless networks alone, while each of the entries takes up far too much place. Sure, I can switch over to “Dial-up and VPN”, but that setting isn’t remembered, so I have to switch over again each time I open the window. Right, did I mention that window closes on me all the time? Created a new connection? The window is gone. Connected to a network? Window gone again. Getting the window back needs two clicks on the tiny system tray icon and the context menu entry, plus a search through the stupid list. I want my normal “network connections” window from XP back! Maybe that’s not intuitive to the weekend Windows user, but I don’t care.
Update: I found it – the old network connections window is still available, only not as easy or intuitive to get to as it previously was. Doesn’t change anything about that peculiarity described under “Fourth” below…

Second, Installing VPNs… has anybody ever actually used that “Use gateway on remote network” option? Apart from switching it off, I mean? How about setting a useful default there? Instead they have changed the default for “include Windows logon domain”, which took me a while to notice. It has to be switched off, probably in most cases, but now it’s switched on by default.

Third, OneCare. Of course I wasn’t able to establish a connection with any of my VPNs without switching off the OneCare firewall. No noticification, nothing, it just doesn’t work. Wait, there’s the “analyze connection trouble” link… shoot, doesn’t find any reason. In fact it says everything’s great – right after informing me that the connection failed to be established.

The good news is that the “Firewall connection tool” manages to activate VPN connections through the OneCare firewall. For some reason, the button to run that tool was inactive in the options dialog for a while, but now it’s active again and setting that check box is really easy, provided you guess that you have to.

Fourth, what’s that crap with the Network and Sharing Center? Let’s call my two VPNs VPN1 and VPN2 for a moment. So I connected to VPN1. After a moment, I window came up asking me what that network was – Home, Work or Public, IIRC, and what the name was. Okay, I said it was Work and it was called VPN1. Great, so far. Then I killed that connection again and connected to VPN2 instead. Sat there and waited for the window to come up… nothing. Back into the “Connect to network” window – yes, it’s connected alright. Well. Then I noticed that in the context menu of the tray icon, sub menu Disconnect from, it said VPN1 instead of VPN2. Huh? Opened Network and Sharing Center and there it was: I’m connected to VPN1, Connection: VPN2. Huh? What? Plus, my private network classification from VPN1 had also carried over to VPN2, making this not only a usability thing but also a security issue.

I don’t see the point in the Network and Sharing Center, as far as network connections are concerned. It displays incomprehensible information and it offers no way of configuring the networks. In fact it (or the functionality behind it, rather) seems to be dangerous… in case anybody has something enlightening to say about this, please go ahead.

1 Comment on VPNs in Vista – yes, and OneCare again

  1. The list of irritating inconveniences in Vista and its acolytes goes on and on. Vista won’t burn DVDs or synch with mobile devices reliably. Its security model is fundamentally broken (denying me access to My Documents whilst allowing any other account access, for instance). Print sharing with XP computers is a nightmare of contradictory security settings and inconsistent behaviour. OneCare is highly intrusive but also ineffectual. Office 2007 has slightly interesting ribbons, but many are illogically arranged and they are not configurable – so the stuff Microsoft imagines Joe Public likes to use (but which I never use) is in the way whilst the stuff I regularly need is hidden away in stupid places. Vista is a disaster of overcomplexity, inadequate testing and a big corporation’s hubris for thinking it knows what its consumers want whilst not having any clue whatsoever. I’ve had to return to XP on every machine but one, which is dual-boot Vista and XP.


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