Here's your latest TLA (three-letter abbreviation): Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS): The newly dubbed WPS system will allow consumers to enable strong Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) encryption on their home networks with a few clicks. No passphrase invention. No long sequences of hexadecimal to enter. No more, "this is too much trouble." Or so we hope.
While individual chipmakers Atheros and Broadcom have spent some years trying to get manufacturer uptake for easier security setup, and Buffalo has long had its AOSS hardware button solution on its gear, the whole point of Wi-Fi is that it's mix and match. As much as vendors don't like it, you will often find heterogeneous gear in a single household. Thus, a Wi-Fi Alliance backed initiative must take the day in the end.
The new system, which will be incorporated in Windows Vista, will work with computers, gateways, peripherals, and consumer electronics. The notion is that you would initiate a WPS mode on a gateway and then enter a simple sequence of digits (like a PIN), press a button, or use a similarly easy method to start a secure key exchange to retrieve the WPA key. As a fallback, devices will also be able to produce the underlying WPA key. There's been some talk in the past of pushing this key onto a USB device, as one example, to allow key exchange through hardware instead of over-the-air.
WPS will be a certified technology controlled by the Wi-Fi Alliance, so that any device using the WPS label will have had to pass laboratory tests.