One of the things that we love most about Windows 7 right now is the much-improved taskbar. But as much as we love it, it’s not allowing us to do anything radically different than from before. Much of what we’ve reported about Windows 7 centers around small tweaks and changes that make us enjoy our computing experience more, but now we’ve learned about something that could change the way that we use our portable computers.
According to istartedsomething.com, Microsoft has been researching since 2002, a technology that would allow a wireless adaptor to appear as more than just the single piece of hardware that it is.
Windows 7 will allow through clever virtualization software a single Wi-Fi card to appear as two. For the way that most of us use Wi-Fi today, this doesn’t sound like a big deal – but with two ‘virtual’ adapters, now we can connect to two hotspots at once.
The revolutionary part comes in when you want to use one virtual Wi-Fi adapter to connect to a hotspot and the other one to share the connection with other laptops. This could be useful for paid connections at public places such as hotels. Only one paid-internet pass would be needed, which can then be shared through the second virtualized adapter. You could even take it a step further by using the second adapter as a repeater.
The feature is already integrated into Windows 7, but the reason why we’re not all running virtualized adapters now is because there needs to be specific drivers written to take advantage of the feature.
Microsoft’s documentation reads:
“On Windows 7 and later, the operating system installs a virtual device if a Hosted Network capable wireless adapter is present on the machine. This virtual device normally shows up in the “Network Connections Folder” as ‘Wireless Network Connection 2’ with a Device Name of ‘Microsoft Virtual WiFi Miniport adapter’ if the computer has a single wireless network adapter. This virtual device is used exclusively for performing software access point (SoftAP) connections [...]. The lifetime of this virtual device is tied to the physical wireless adapter. If the physical wireless adapter is disabled, this virtual device will be removed as well.”
Support for virtual wireless adapters is supposed to be part of the Windows 7 driver certification program, so hopefully we’ll be rocking dual Wi-Fi soon.