It turns out that there is an unfinished feature in Windows 7 hidden away, a developer has found a partially completed feature that will allow any laptop to turn into a wireless access point, allowing all Wi-Fi enabled devices to share that connection. All you have to do is install a small piece of software and away you go.
A company called Nomadio, who specialise in military network consulting and development, have developed a beta version of Connectify, which takes advantage of the Virtual Wi-Fi feature in Windows 7. It turns out Microsoft’s research group had been working on a way to virtualise one wireless card into multiple, separate adaptors. However the project was discontinued in 2006.
Yet the code for this Virtual Wi-Fi made its way into Windows 7, but driver support didn’t get finished for it.
“A year ago, Microsoft talked a lot about this as a big feature in Windows 7,” said Alex Gizis, the CEO of Nomadio. “But driver support didn’t get finished. The low-level code is in there, but the driver-level stuff isn’t. And there’s no app or setting in Windows to turn it on.”
Alex Gizis said that his company have developed the missing part of software to make this feature work. This piece of software actually makes your laptop show up as a real wireless access point, and differs from the conventional way that Microsoft already supports sharing an internet connection with other Windows computers.
He points out how useful this could be in real life situations – It’s not only convenient but can also save you money
“You’re sitting in a coffee shop that charges you for a wireless connection. With Connectify, I can pay for that connection, and still have all my other devices, like my iPhone, connected to the internet”
“There are a lot of neat scenarios where this comes in handy,” he said. “For example, people can use a wireless printer without any setup, which usually requires that you first plug the [wireless] printer into the computer with a USB cable so it can select the network.”
Connectify effectively lets you tether your laptop to other wireless devices using a single internet connection. It even works when your using another Wi-Fi network. He puts it as a ” Software Based Wireless Router ”
It really is a great piece of software and whats best of all the Beta is free and available to download here. Unfortunately Nomadio has plans to put a price on it when they release the final full featured version of it, which they reckon will be ready in about 6 weeks. However they are also thinking of offering a ad supported free version as well as the full paid version.
Connectify runs on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 r2, both in either 32 or 64 bits. Connectify also works with the vast majority of WiFi cards that have Windows 7 drivers. There seem to be a number of Intel WiFi cards that do not have proper driver support (such as the 4965AGN and 5100 series, though it does work with the 1395). However they are working on a solution and will make an announcement when we have a resolution.
So there you have it, bet you didn’t know your new Windows 7 OS could act as a Wi-Fi hot spot? Whats also handy is Connectify encrypts the traffic to and from the software “hot spot” using WPA2-Personal (AES) encryption.
It’s about time Microsoft allowed us to do this, You’ve been able to do it on a Mac under ” Internet Sharing ” for ages! Just one problem, it doesn’t appear to be working for me……
Is it working for you? Let us know in the comments