Windows 7 comes with a new feature that allows computers that run it to be converted more easily into a virtual WiFi hotspot, a hub to which other devices including smartphones and internet appliances, can connect seamlessly.
So why would you convert your computer into a wireless router? For a start, it removes the need to have yet another peripheral, especially useful when you roam along or travel in group plus it saves power especially if you intend to use it on a 24 hour basis.
Then there's the fact that a computer that's used as a wireless router is more easily upgradable, just use another WiFi adaptor; this means that an old P4 computer can become a 802.11n WiFi router just by adding a £20 card.
Indeed, even a laptop can be transformed into a wireless router and most recent ones already have a 802.11n adaptor already. Finally, an adhoc wireless router reduces security risks because it would be created on demand rather than always left on as routers are normally.
Arguably, you don't get the four LAN ports you usually get on a router but if wireless is your preferred mode of connection, then why not.
Windows 7 was supposed to offer a Virtual WiFi option as an integral part of its feature list but that never happened. A nifty little application called Connectify enables the miracle to happen. Connect any internet line to your laptop for example and Connectify will transform it into a generic provider of bandwidth.
This works as well for mobile broadband dongles, cable, ADSL and even tethered phones. We have yet to see whether it can actually be used as a repeater though (albeit an expensive one).
Connectify uses features that are present in all versions of Windows 7 (except Starter edition) and Windows Server 2008 R2 onwards. It won't work with other current Windows OSes with or without service packs.
Setting it up is a matter of minutes. Download Connectify and install it. Start the application, fill out the appropriate details, including login and password.
Connectify essentially creates a virtual router access point that resides within the computer and run simultaneously with an existing AP connection.
Other computers and devices can connect to it as they would normally do with any other wireless routers; you will have to choose between the Access Point - where you share a WiFi connection using the same card that you're actually using to access the resource and Adhoc where the internet connection is separate from the transmitting device.
The new Connectify v1.2 which was launched on the 30th of March introduces improved Ad Hoc functionality with a useful but risque Open/no encryption mode.
There's also a new Easy Set Up wizard, essential for novices, and an improved user interface with more statistics especially if you want to know more about clients that are connecting to your computer; an easy way to identify rogue ones.
We've suggested to Connectify that they investigate the possibility of bonding resources virtually, either combining two or more WiFi devices into a single one or combining two or more internet connections into one.
The developers have also promised that they will be working on improving the number of network devices that currently support the application, a list of which you can find here. You can download Connectify here, learn more about it here and follow them on Twitter here.