An unfinished project to fit Windows 7 with virtual Wi-Fi devices makes every laptop into a hotspot with the smallest of patches.
The patch comes from Nomadio, who followed Microsoft's plans for virtual Wi-Fi support until Redmond dumped the project in 2006. Nomadio then noticed that most of the code is present in Windows 7, which can thus be turned into a Wi-Fi hotspot with the aid of a patch the company is handing out free for beta testing.
Software hotspots are nothing new - back when Wi-Fi access points were prohibitively expensive Compaq, amongst others, sold software access points designed to run on PCs, but having the capability built into Windows 7 makes the process much easier, and the plethora of Wi-Fi devices knocking around these days makes the functionality more useful too.
The patch, named Connectify, can even share Wi-Fi connections with other Wi-Fi devices, as CEO Ales Gizis explained to Computerworld: "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."
Wi-Fi interfacing is getting a lot more functional: Intel's forthcoming Cliffside technology is all about maintaining multiple Wi-Fi connections, in theory allowing mice and keyboards to connect over (low-power) Wi-Fi, which obviously requires multiple connections over one link.
That's mainly about trying to squeeze a bit more revenue out of the standard, though. Putting sharing into Windows 7 isn't quite so innovative, but might be useful if you don't want to pay for multiple connections next time you're at a hotspot. ®