How to turn your Windows 7 laptop into a Wi-Fi hotspot
A secret feature in Windows 7 allows you to take any internet connection and share it wirelessly and securely with any number of Wi-Fi enabled devices including laptops, phones, gaming systems, and more. The idea behind the feature is straightforward: let users simultaneously connect to multiple wireless networks with only one wireless card ... without any additional hardware, wires, or plugs.
Wi-Fi enabled devices can see and join your hotspot just like any other Wi-Fi access point and are kept safe and secure by rock solid WPA2-PSK/AES Encryption
This feature - Microsoft calls it 'Wireless Hosted Network' - remained hidden by default because of incompatibility issues with many devices and drivers. It actually turns your laptop into a router/Wi-Fi hotspot by implementing the virtualization of a physical wireless adapter into more than one virtual wireless adapter - also referred to as Virtual WiFi. A full technical description by Microsoft is available here
Getting started with wireless Hosted Networks
In order to use the wireless Hosted Network feature, your wireless adapter must be using drivers certified for Windows 7. If Windows detects a supported adapter, it will automatically add a connection to the Network Connections window, named 'Microsoft Virtual WiFi Miniport Adapter' - see Figure 1. If multiple supported-adapters exist, Windows will automatically choose the one to use for the wireless Hosted Network.
As you can see, the device is disabled by default - as is the feature.
One can activate both the device and the feature either through some command line scripts, or through the user friendly and free application 'Connectify'.
1. Activating your device and Wi-Fi hotspot with Connectify
Most users are likely to choose this option: the application provides for an easy setup procedure and resides in the Notification Tray, providing immediate customization of the network).
- Go to Connectify's Homepage, download the software (free, no registration required) and install it.
- Click on the Connectify logo in the Notification Tray.
* Select the Internet connection you wish to share
* Choose a name for your new wireless network
* Choose a wireless password - your wireless Access Point hotspot is encrypted with WPA2-Personal (AES) encryption
* If the Mode box is visible, select "Access Point" if it is in the menu, otherwise, use "Ad Hoc".
* Press the Start Hotspot Sharing button to turn on your wireless network
* Now, from your other devices, you can see your wireless network. Choose to join it, and enter the wireless password to connect.
2. Activating your device and Wi-Fi hotspot through command line scripts
More advanced users can activate the device and Wi-Fi hotspot through command line scripts (please run all Command Prompts with Administrative permissions)
a) Set the parameters for your Wi-Fi hotspot (first choose a name for your Wi-Fi hotspot and a password key)
run : netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=Hotspot key=passwordhere (where ssid = your Wi-Fi hotspot name, and key = your password key)
b) Start the network adapter
run : netsh wlan start hostednetwork
c) Share the connection
- Open Network and Sharing Center, right click on "Microsoft Virtual WiFi Miniport Adapter",
- Go to Properties --> Sharing,
- Select 'Allow other network users to connect through this computer's Internet connection',
- Click 'Select a private network connection' and select your active internet connection,
- Click OK and close all tabs.
d) Disabling the Wi-Fi Hotspot
run : netsh wlan stop hostednetwork