Turn Windows 7 into a Wi-Fi hotspot

If you have ever wanted to turn your laptop into a Wi-Fi hotspot, a secret feature has been revealed in Windows 7 code that allows you to tether your cell phone or other wireless device to your laptop.

The unfinished feature was hidden by default because of incompatibility with many of the devices and drivers. The feature can be enabled through some simple command line scripts and a feature clicks of the mouse.

Open up the Run command with Administrative permissions and run:
netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=Hotspot key=passwordhere

Set the network adapter with:
netsh wlan start hostednetwork

After running the command, you should notice "Microsoft Virtual WiFi Miniport Adapter" appear in your network and sharing settings.
Enable "Allow other network users to connect through this computer's Internet connection" under your Sharing tab, under properties.
After you have configured everything, you should be allowed to wirelessly connect to your laptop with your mobile devices. However, this isn't very useful to the everyday user, but has its future possibilities.

Users have reported that the following chipsets work:

  • Atheros AR5005GS (as in the TP-Link TL-WN651G)
  • Atheros AR5007EG with 8.0.0.238 firmware
  • Broadcom 4310-series (in many Dell laptops)
  • D-link AirPlus G DWL-G510 Wireless PCI Adapter (driver version 3.0.1.0)
  • Intel 5100/5300 (with latest drivers from Intel's site, version 13.0.0.107, 64bit systems only)
  • Ralink RT2870 (in many 802.11n USB dongles)
  • Realtek RTL8187SE (with the drivers that came with Windows 7)
  • Realtek RTL8192u with 1370(Beta)

Connectify is also available that takes advantage of this feature in Windows 7.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Microsoft Office 2010 beta available on MSDN/TechNet

Next Story

Apple gives approval to previously rejected political app

44 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Man, this really works. I completely disconnected my hardware wireless router and installed Connectify and it works great. I think that it is even faster than the hardware router. I even managed to use my phone's web browser through it and I don't have an internet subscription on my phone (Samsong M300.)

Ok, so if my laptop is already using the WiFi around me, wouldn't the other WiFi devices be able to detect that too? What's the point?

Its more for secure places like a college campus, if they require an installation (like mine does) or doesnt support mobile devices, or if you have a 3G laptop, and don't have a WiFi network around, you can link your mobile to it.

This isn't for everybody, but it's actually kind of helpful when you need it.

Works on an Intel 5100 abgn. You need to install the latest Windows 7 drivers for it and Intel even add their own wifi hotspot application for you.

Damn, I just tried again (tried before with Connectify, no luck) on my Dell Studio 1745 with a Dell Wireless 1397 WLAN Mini-card and still no luck.
I got the second connection with Microsoft Virtual Wifi Miniport Adapter but when I did the connection to start or tried enabling it in Adapter Settings, no luck. Still disabled.

Linux has had this ever since the first 802.11b cards started coming out...I have a bunch of Intersil Prism II cards that I used for some embedded systems ~01. Good to see Windows finally has native support for this.
FYI this worked on any Windows based system that had a driver which supported this. This just builds the functionaity into a standard call to drivers via NDIS. There were tools for XP that allowed for this on certain cards as well.

But USB & bluetooth are hardly the same as WiFi - USB means they are limited to well cables. And bluetooth just isn't designed for what WiFi is.

Raa said,
And thirdly, since when did a WinMo phone offer hotspot access? I've never seen it.

By default, the HTC HD2 has a wireless router application built in. For any other Windows Mobile phone with WiFi, you can either download HTCs software that has been hacked to work on any device, or use one of the multiple programs that enable this functionality.

This can go one of two ways:

1. Microsoft fully support this feature and continues to develop it.
2. Microsoft rolls out a "fix" that completely disables/remove it.

Here's hoping for #1.

I highly doubt they will go #2 because before they decided to hide the feature and was still developing the feature they told IHVs that they need to put support for this into their drivers in order to be gain the Windows 7 logo. So I bet it will be fully supported by SP1. Hopefully anyway.

I don't really understand the purpose of this, but I'm missing something.
If someone was able to connect to the laptop running the virtual wifi, why wouldn't they just connect to the router that the laptop is connected to?
Also, by default, at least for me in Win 7, the virtual wifi was already showing up and enabled.
I'm just waiting for the virtual wifi to be finished and does what it was designed to do, now that'd be an awsome feature.

LUTZIFER said,
If someone was able to connect to the laptop running the virtual wifi, why wouldn't they just connect to the router that the laptop is connected to?


This is good any place that has a per-device restriction. It might be Starbucks where you only have 1 account, but 2 devices.

Shadrack, it allows other devices to connect wirelessly through your Windows 7 laptop ... in what way is internet connection sharing the same thing? If you're 30m away from a wireless router, and another person is 60m away and potentially out of range (but still within 30m of you), then this will allow them to connect by accessing the internet through your wifi adapter. and if you have another person 90m away from the router but 30m away from the second person, and that person has also done this hack, then all three of you can potentially connect.

Oh I see. So it sets up a WiFi connection (hub) between two sources and bridges them together into 1 network. Where as ICS shares the connection coming through a different connection (like a wired network) with other network adapters (WiFi or otherwise).

I can see this coming in handy at hotel rooms where you have to pay for Internet, and the Internet you pay for is tied to the MAC address of your device. So I could connect my Laptop to the WiFi, pay for that connection, and then connect my iPhone to my Laptops WiFi and get the Internet through that.

Is that correct or am I still missing something?

yeah, that's pretty much it. you could connect multiple devices via wifi through your windows 7 laptop with this feature enabled.

I'm not sure I follow the significance of this article...

Whats the difference between this and setting up an Adhoc network by following the step-by-step wizard and using the "Enable Internet Connection Sharing" option at the last step of the wizard?

Going with the built in wizard was very trivial and has the same results. No need to do this on the command line. Don't understand why the author thinks this is a "hidden" or "secret" Windows 7 feature (its been around since Windows XP). Maybe I'm missing something....

I think an Adhoc network is usually only two devices (two network adapters) connected to one another.

In this case I think it allows multiple devices to be connected to the PC and to the internet through the pc - with the PC only having one wireless adapter.

Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

Thanks for the article Nighthawk64. I will read through it.

mmck: I can connect with my iPhone and XBox 360 through the same "AdHoc" connection on my PC simultaneously.

I'm in the same boat as you Andrew. I bought a 4965AGN for my netbook about a year ago. So I thought its not to old it should work. Wrong, and add to that, that it needs 64bit if you want to use Intel.