Here's the Mac OS X wireless connection seconds later, after the system has switched network connections. The other way to reach the network connections in range is by selecting the "Open Internet Connect" option in the pop-up menu displayed here.
Internet Connect provides more detailed information about the network to which the system is currently connected. And, by selecting from the pop-up menu, the ability to switch to another wireless network.
Here's the pop-up list of networks in range in Mac Internet Connect. Switching is quick and easy.
In Microsoft's XP operating system, mousing over the wireless icon in the Tray revealed information about the connection. Vista's view is richer....
On mouse-over, Vista shows a richer picture, but no more information about the current connection. The improvements lie deeper, where the Mac's wireless preferences lose touch with how network connections relate to other system functions.
Again, back to Windows XP for a look at the past. When right-clicking on the wireless icon in the Tray, several options appeared, including the ability to browse available networks, repair or disable the current connection and open the firewall settings for the system.
That last option, Network and Sharing Center, in the menu displayed when right-clicking the wireless icon links to preferences and network information that helps the user stay on top of the risks of, and services available through, a Internet Protocol network.
There isn't really a good reason for this screen when you consider that Vista doesn't provide this kind of confirmation for other settings in the Network and Sharing Center.
Here's the next step in customizing a network profile. It asks whether the Airport Wi-Fi connection can connect to any available network or only to specified networks, though it would be hard to tell from the options "Automatic" and "Preferred networks."
Look, I was networking editor of MacWEEK way back before the Mac OS had any Internet Protocol capability. But 15 years later, Apple should be doing more for the network naive user than asking for the DNS server addresses in the first screen for a connection. Airport Extreme is a sophisticated system that should mediate between the user and the network better than this. It's the kind of intelligence that Mac people pay a premium to get from a system.