Connectify turns Windows 7 laptops into Wi-Fi hotspots

By on October 30, 2009, 1:38 PM
Few years ago a little-known feature called Virtual Wi-Fi was crafted by Microsoft's research group as a way to "virtualize" one wireless card as several separate adapters in Windows. The project was discontinued in 2006, but some of the code apparently made its way into Windows 7, and now at least one company is taking advantage of it with a new application that can turn any laptop into a wireless access point.


Developed by military consulting firm Nomadio, Connectify lets a laptop "tether" other wireless devices to a single Internet connection by effectively turning it into a software-based wireless router. Windows 7 is required on the notebook acting as a wireless hotspot, but any wireless-equipped device, including handhelds and other notebooks running whatever operating system can jump online without any additional software. The program even encrypts traffic to and from the software hotspot using WPA2-Personal (AES) encryption.

While the Connectify beta is free to download, Nomadio expects to charge users once the complete version is released in about six weeks. A free, ad-supported version might also be released down the road.




User Comments: 39

Got something to say? Post a comment
mattfrompa mattfrompa said:

very interesting concept, although I can't think of many times i would personally find it useful. Anyone with a good example I am all ears.

treeski treeski said:

Seems pretty cool, but I can't exactly imagine making use of it.

If there's a fee involved, there's no way I would bother toying around with it either, even to find a use for it.

Deso said:

wow that's so cool, my wireless router is in the basement, so I'll be able to make my brothers wireless laptop in the middle floor, connect to my laptop in the second floor of the house and hopefully have a better single there then to the router? awesome

elroacho72 said:

This sounds great! I would beta test this. I can't see how the project got discontinued in 2006.

It would be just as cool back in 2006. I think this would be a great use of that old laptop in a low spot in my house. I can also see using it with a cell phone and a laptop . I can't wait to see all of its applications it could be used for. I will download it now.

Staff
Jos Jos said:

It definitely could come in handy whenever you have to pay for expensive Wi-Fi (an airport, for example) and want to share that connection with others... or perhaps even to extend your Wi-Fi range at home.

Colonel Lance said:

Wow, this is pretty awesome. I wouldn't be surprised if this was an accident on Microsoft's part, though I would not be surprised if it was intentional either. MS seems to be making some good choices as of late, I'm pretty impressed.

I can see this being very useful, mostly in the ways that Jos mentioned.

MBK MBK said:

Jos said:

It definitely could come in handy whenever you have to pay for expensive Wi-Fi (an airport, for example) and want to share that connection with others... or perhaps even to extend your Wi-Fi range at home.

I had no idea how this could be useful until i read this comment. Seems like a good idea, especially sharing expensive connects (at least fron a consumer's point of view, don't think the network admin are going to like it very much).

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

That's cool, but how is this any different than setting up an ad-hoc network? I've done this a number of times with Vista, and it's also available in XP. It's simply a wireless connection with Internet sharing on.

Guest said:

THIS IS NOTHING NEW....

This feature has always existed in windows. If you had internet plugged into any computer via ethernet and that desktop or laptop also had a wireless nic, all you had to do was right click on the icon for the wireless device, go to properties, and under the sharing tab, select the checkbox that says "Allow other users to connect through this computer's internet connection." Then make sure the output nic is the wireless device and there you go. I guess small minded people who hated vista for no reason never had the opportunity to enjoy that option.

lesajm said:

It is great to see progress like this. Any new ways to connect are always desirable.

tonylukac said:

To Deso: You can get a repeater router (for wireless g only) and it would use a lot less power than keeping a laptop on all the time. It would also cost a lot less if you're buying new.

freedomthinker said:

I really support this , im using Windows 7 right now and im soo happy . When i had a problem on XP , everytime i turned my PC on i had to restart my modem to get some connectivity ! This is totally awesome !

abautu said:

Seems very nice. I wonder why is this Window 7 dependent? Why can't it be implemented in other OSs (obviouslly, with more code in the application, compensating for less OS support)?

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Guest said:

THIS IS NOTHING NEW....

This feature has always existed in windows. If you had internet plugged into any computer via ethernet and that desktop or laptop also had a wireless nic, all you had to do was right click on the icon for the wireless device, go to properties, and under the sharing tab, select the checkbox that says "Allow other users to connect through this computer's internet connection." Then make sure the output nic is the wireless device and there you go. I guess small minded people who hated vista for no reason never had the opportunity to enjoy that option.

From a bit of reading on the Connectify FAQ you don't have to have your laptop hooked up via a hardwire ethernet connection. You can use your wireless connection, with the same network card, and then re-broadcast it as a new wifi hotspot.

Also, I believe you could do what you are talking about on Xp Pro.

Connectify FAQ

You can join a WiFi network and run the Connectify Hotspot on the same WiFi card, at the same time. The Connectify Hotspot is always on the same channel as the WiFi network that you join, but WiFi networks can share the same channel.

InsaneVr6 said:

I am always iffy about wireless hotspot's because they usually aren't very well protected. The cool thing about this is that it encrypts it with WPA.

Windows 7 so far seems to be very well executed and what Vista should have been. A lot of cool features that even third parties are already taking advantage of.

skitzo_zac skitzo_zac, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I could of used this last year when I was hosting a LAN at home and was needing to extend the range of my wireless network.

But yeah, is there any reason this is Win 7 exclusive?

jurrasstoil said:

When it stays free, i'd def. have a use for it.

I'm getting a small netbook to be a bit more mobile than with my current 15.4". When i'm home it's running 24/7 most of the time and this would save me some bucks for a wireless router.

RickD said:

elroacho72 said:

I think this would be a great use of that old laptop in a low spot in my house.

Somehow I doubt that you could get Windows 7 to run on an old laptop. If it can run Windows 7 then it's good for far more than a simple access point.

Puiu Puiu said:

It's a nice feature to expand your wi-fi connection. This could be more important than 802.11n It's another good reason to buy windows 7.

gamingmage said:

This is amazing! Especially for small businesses that want to get wifi in their business either for themselves or for customers. Such as mom and pop donut shops or cafes. This should be very interesting nonetheless.

Guest said:

RickD. I run Win7 reasonably well on a 2.4 GHz Dell Inspiron laptop with 1 GB RAM. This old piece of Dell detritus was designed for XP.

elroacho72 said:

RickD said:

elroacho72 said:

I think this would be a great use of that old laptop in a low spot in my house.

Somehow I doubt that you could get Windows 7 to run on an old laptop. If it can run Windows 7 then it's good for far more than a simple access point.

You would be surprised about W7 .With the W7 RC out I have put it on a lot of desktops and a few laptops. System requirements only call for a 1 GHz processor. I don't see why it wouldn't! And it won't cost a thing. I'll let you know how it goes.

JieMan JieMan said:

Sounds great , but I have no use for this as I only have this one PC ... boy oh boy could I use a little nettop . ha ha

I could really see this going if you have a Company or a larger home where you can setup tethering all around so you could move about freely and only have to have one main access point. I guess it would depend on where people were moving around tho.

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

WIndows 7 just keeps getting better and better! I kno this has been there before, however, it wasn't as utilized as now.

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

You can use your wireless connection, with the same network card, and then re-broadcast it as a new wifi hotspot.
That's what makes this useful. It sounds feasible to have this on several laptops and make a 'mesh' wifi network that covers much more area than a traditional single access point with multiple points which could provide redundancy.

k0eff said:

Its great. If you have desktop system wifi enabled you can use it like a router for your laptop, or phone.

PenwithFSS said:

How very instructive - first I think 'hey that's amazing' then I learn I could already do it with Vista on my wi-fi equipped laptop . I wonder how many other features I have never discovered. I'll blame the manufacturer for not including a proper printed manual with the computer - but really its my own laziness and ignorance. Joining tech-spot should remedy the second characteristic ...

Zenphic said:

As long as it is easy to setup, I might use it!

gamerguy53 said:

this could be useful for people with iPod touches, where 1 person has a laptop.

Or a netbook with integrated 3G

Razerblade said:

Yeh this is very useful, spcially if you have a wifi dead spot. I have a tool like this on my windows mobile and it works really well when you cannot get an internet connection on your laptop!

SUSHRUKH said:

It definitely could come in handy whenever you have to pay for expensive Wi-Fi & want to share the connection.

zaidpirwani said:

Finally, I can put my old laptop to use again.. now I just have to wait to get my hands on a windows 7 copy..., can't wait to try..

swilllx2p said:

I personally see it as being an awesome way to extend my wifi range, and maybe will one day be very helpful for extending range into areas that could not get any high speed internet before. I love the idea it has possibilities even it ends up not working out to well.

Guest said:

Bzeek already supports the same on XP and Vista for free !!!

www.Bzeek.com

nomasteryoda said:

I mostly use Linux and have Ubuntu 9.10 and Fedora 12(beta) on this laptop with Windows 7 as a new addition. Windows 7 was a free upgrade I got in the mail from Dell.

Connectify will make it very simple for me to let any of my friends use my connection when I travel. It might also make for some interesting fun while at the local cafe' (wink, wink, nod, nod), as sharing your Internet connection on Linux can be somewhat complicated for most people.

Vezineth said:

An add supported one is a feasible option , hopefully we can play Counterstrike anywhere now.

Guest said:

try better, easier which also provides free global wifi access at www.bzeek.com

Guest said:

Here's a Free, Open Source program like Connectify: http://virtualrouter.codeplex.com

Guest said:

is it possible to share you're connection over wifi even if the computer is hooked up to a LAN? as in can my laptop be used to connect my mobile phone through this

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.