D-Link has just announced its first “Vista-approved” wireless router box, the 802.11N pre-standard model DIR-655. And very nice it looks too, but the fact they had issued a press release to say that it would work with Vista prompted me to wonder what precisely it was about this magic box that made it work so seamlessly with an operating system for which no drivers are needed. Were they implying that other routers somehow wouldn’t work quite as well with the OS?

“The draft 802.11N device is the first on the market that has earned the right to display Microsoft’s Works with Windows Vista logo to ensure customers have an optimal experience when building a home network with computers running the Windows Vista operating system,” the official press release announces triumphantly.

It is possible that certain Wi-Fi PC cards might encounter driver compatibility issues, but that’s down to the card, not the router. And having tested three of four older routers without the Vista compliance sticker and not noticed any problems getting them to work with it, is this just another piece of marketing guff designed to let vendors stick the Microsoft logo on their box art?

A quick Google and it turns out I’m not the first to ask this general question. Others have trodden this road of mystery as well.

The thread in this article suggests that the compatibility might be referring to the setup program used to configure the router. If it has a Vista logo then it will run and configure the router. Except you don’t need a setup program to configure a router, all you need is an IP address and the default password and admin long-in.

The other company that has put the sticker on its box-art is Buffalo Technology. According to one of their technical people, the whole Vista router thing is about promoting high-end features.

“Vista Premium for a wireless router means things like it must be dual band, have WMM and WPS functionality, basically bringing a level of speed, flexibility and security that the Vista Premium should be able to expect."

Relief all round then – it is marketing guff after all. If it has a Vista logo on it, that probably means it is just the latest bit of kit, and has just cost almost as much as upgrading to Windows Vista itself. You strongly suspect that this fact won’t stop the legions of salesmen in computer shops from promoting Wi-Fi routers on the back of the useless recommendation that they will work with the new operating system exactly as well as they will work with any version of Windows.