If you have got Wi-Fi in your laptop and have Windows 7 installed in it then you can easily turn it into a Wi-Fi hotspot and share your net connection with other people in the range and Virtual Router is the easiest way to do so.
Windows 7 (and Windows server 2008) have new ’Virtual Wifi’ and ’Wireless Hosted Network’ features that make it possible for your PC to set up a wi-fi hotspot, provided, of course, that the wifi device and its driver support this feature as well. This means that this software will have to run on Windows 7 to work but will not run on XP or Vista. If you are wondering whether your wifi device and router support these features the author of Visual Router provides a link to a list of known supported devices on his site.
Virtual Router is an open source software which leverages the Wireless Hosted Network API which is a part of the new Windows Operating Systems (Windows 7 and Windows server 2008).
With this feature, a Windows computer can use a single physical wireless adapter to connect as a client to a hardware access point (AP), while at the same time acting as a software AP allowing other wireless-capable devices to connect to it. This feature requires that a Hosted Network capable wireless adapter is installed in the local computer. (quoted from MS library)
After downloading and installing the software all you have to do is specify the network name and password to access this network. It uses the WPA-2 encryption to protect the wireless network from unwanted users.
Here are more notes on this program:
- Ease of use: as previously mentioned, I was able to get a wifi connection running almost instantly after install, and only had to set a password to do so.
- Connection problems: if you are encountering problems check to see if you are connected to the internet using a wired internet connection and not wifi. Alternately, you might need to update the driver of your wifi device, or you device may not be compatible with the new Windows 7 features mentioned above. Check out the FAQ if you need to troubleshoot.
- Encryption: WPA2 encryption by default.
- Performance: was excellent; the wifi connection was fast and responsive; however, I do not know if the wifi connection is handicapped in any way compared to a “normal” wifi router for example. If you have some information and could shed light on this in the comments section Ii would be grateful.
The verdict: an excellent software that can be quite handy, and can get you up and running in two clicks. This program is still in beta, but works well; however it can at times be a little quirky when you attempt to shut it down.
Version Tested: 0.9.0.0 beta
Compatibility: requires Windows 7.
The program requires only 20mb of RAM and is pretty simple to understand and use. Requires Windows 7 or Windows server 2008 to run.