Nomadio, which specializes in military network consulting and development, used the new "Virtual Wi-Fi" feature in Windows 7 to create Connectify, a free application that it released as a beta last Friday.
Virtual Wi-Fi was crafted in Microsoft's research group as a way to "virtualize" one wireless card as several separate adapters. The project was discontinued in 2006, but the work made its way into Windows 7 as .
"A year ago, Microsoft talked a lot about this as a big feature in Windows 7," said Alex Gizis, the CEO of Nomadio. "But driver support didn't get finished. The low-level code is in there, but the driver-level stuff isn't. And there's no app or setting in Windows to turn it on."
Explaining that the feature was "half there" in Windows 7, Gizis said his company realized "we have the rest of the software here, in our networking work."
The resulting Connectify differs from the Internet connection sharing that Windows already supports via an "ad hoc" network connection, which lets several Windows computers share a single connection. "For one thing, it shows up as a real wireless access point," Gizis said. "Two, Internet connection sharing has issues. It returns to the default settings every time you shut down a connection. And three, you can join another wireless network and still run the Connectify Hotspot on the same Wi-Fi card."