The only way to have wireless capabilities in the Laptop that doesn't provide one is to buy and plug PCMCIA wireless 811.2g card. I think all Laptops have PCMCIA slots. Check that before buying a card.
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You need to install the wireless driver if it is not already installed. You need to configure your wireless router's wireless settings, Eg. the SSID and the WPA or WPA2 encryption, then you need to configure the wireless card in your laptop with the wireless router's settings so the laptop can connect to the wireless router.
Just make sure your laptop has either built-in wireless already (what is the make and model?) or you'll need to buy a wireless adapter (usually a PCMCIA or USB). They are easy to hook up generally speaking. We're here to help with that if the instructions aren't clear enough for you.
It's possible that the driver for your wireless adapter is already installed. Check under Device Manager > Network Adapters if there is anything pertaining to your wireless adapter. Make sure that your wireless adapter (under Device manager > Network adapters) does not have any red X or yellow question mark.
Red X indicated that it's disabled , while yellow question mark will suggest that you need to update the driver. If your wireless adapter is working properly under Device Manager > Network adapters then you will need to configure it's utility for wireless connection.
If you are running windows XP, look for the wireless icon in the lower right side of your task bar and use it to connect to your preferred network.
Unfortunately no, most laptops uses a miniPCI WiFi Card with a switch that is hardwired to one of its pins. That pin must receive a signal (or absence thereof) to activate.
Control Panel activation is actually the enable/disable feature, but it's still got to be mechanically switch on, otherwise it will still not function even if enabled (which I suspect you already have tried).
Although there might be a way to trick the wifi into thinking it was mechanically switch on, however it is no longer swtichable to off (meaning always on). First, you must determine if your laptop uses a miniPCI WiFi Card similar to the image shown below left. If yes, you have to cover pin # 7 as illustrated below mid image. You would need Scotch tape about 1.0mm wide and 4.0mm long to cover the pin.
Of course the usual precaution applies, AC power off, battery removed, possible void of warranty, can possibly make your unit inoperable (unlikely though still possible) and others as may be applicable.
Good luck and hope this works for you. Post again how things turn up or should you need further information. Kind regards.