Connectify creates and shares Virtual WiFi Hotspots with Windows 7
Somewhere around 2002, Microsoft Research started trying to figure out how to virtualize a WiFi adapter so one physical adapter could act as multiple virtual adapters. This functionality is actually baked into Windows 7, so if you've got 7, you've got this.
Fast forward to today and there's a new product in Beta called "Connectify." Since I just started using a new 4G WiMAX product called Clear I thought this would be the perfect match.
First, on my Dell Mini 9, I made a connection with Clear.com's WiMAX.
Then, I simply ran Connectify, gave it a new secret WPA passphrase, and created a new WiFi hotspot. I could have called the HotSpot anything and the passphase can be anything.
Next, over on my Lenovo T60p, I checked out the list of WiFi hotspots nearby:
There it is. For the test, I disconnected my primary WiFi and connected only to the Connectify spot and it worked famously. I was sharing my Clear.com connection with two laptops.
I love this product and I know I'll use it all the time. The real question is going to be how they price it. I'd totally pay $19.95 for this to connect up to, say, 3 people. If they try to charge $40 for a basic service, that's going to be a hard sell in my opinion. Personally, I have no idea how much they intend to charge, I just caution them and hope they think about this.
Isn't this just Internet Connection Sharing?
This was my first question. I asked their support and suggested they add the answer to their FAQ. It's a very good answer and spot on:
The ICS (Internet Connection Sharing) feature you mention is really ICS + Ad Hoc WiFi.
My quick response is:
1) It's a real wifi access point, not an ad hoc Wifi connection.
2) The Virtual WiFi driver feature in Windows 7 lets us set up your Wifi access point, while actually staying attached to another Wifi network at the same time. With the old ICS/ad hoc thing, you could not use your internet connection for anything but the ad hoc sharing. (ie, you needed to get your internet from another card).
3) I realize you're at Microsoft, but ICS has severe issues. It loses all of your settings every time the machine reboots for example, making it effectively useless for anything but a quick demo.
Makes total sense to me. ICS is nice if you have two network cards, but it's hardly convenient or easy.
One unrelated caveat:
Warning: You need to check with your provider if you're planning on sharing your connection. I'm planning on using it from, for example, my hotel to share with my phone, or at a coffee shop to share with maybe one additional person. Share smartly. From Connectify's site:
Am I allowed to share my Internet?
This depends on the terms of service of your Internet Service Provider. Many have terms against reselling the connections, however sharing with friends, family and your other computers is generally fine.
It works fantastically. The UI is a little goofy, particularly the form validation is unclear. Make sure your WPA password is at least 8 characters or you'll get flummoxed.
Still, Connectify is a winner and I wish them all the best!