Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Wireless Networking Networking Portables Windows

Unfinished Windows 7 Hotspot Feature Exploited 234

Posted by timothy
from the vestigial-tail dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Engadget: "It wasn't all that long ago that Microsoft was talking up the Virtual WiFi feature developed by Microsoft Research and set for inclusion in Windows 7, but something got lost along the road to release day, and the functionality never officially made it into the OS. As you might expect with anything as big and complicated as an operating system though, some of that code did make it into the final release, and there was apparently enough of it for the folks at Nomadio to exploit into a full fledged feature. That's now become Connectify, a free application from the company that effectively turns any Windows 7 computer into a virtual WiFi hotspot — letting you, for instance, wirelessly tether a number of devices to your laptop at location where only an Ethernet jack is available, or even tether a number of laptops together at a coffee shop that charges for WiFi."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Unfinished Windows 7 Hotspot Feature Exploited

Comments Filter:
  • by KeithH (15061) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @12:58PM (#29965092)
    If these are undocumented APIs, then you can bet that they'll be removed or otherwise disabled in the first service pack.
    • Yeah, all this work developing a useful feature since 2006 waiting for driver support that wasn't coming, might as well just get that out of the OS to stop everyone from using it and enjoying the feature.

      Or, more likely, the first service pack will contain the necessary updates to enable this natively without needing the third party software.

    • Expect the next release of the EULA to say something like any future and unknown at the moment uses of the operating system or its APIs that MS doesn't approve of at some future date, become automatic EULA violations even if those uses are unknown at the time the end user first agreed to the EULA.

  • Bloat... (Score:5, Funny)

    by torkus (1133985) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @12:59PM (#29965112)

    Not surprising really. The secret formula for CokeCola is probably hidden in there too.

    I wonder how many 'libraries of congress' could fit in the space occupied by unused but deployed windows code.

  • Stealing (Score:5, Funny)

    by Reason58 (775044) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @01:09PM (#29965246)

    or even tether a number of laptops together at a coffee shop that charges for WiFi

    That coffee shop has to pay for its connection, and bandwidth is a limited resource. Is Engadget going to instruct us on how to distract the employees while you pour free coffee into your thermos too?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by StormyWeather (543593)

      Low tech solution. Show em yer boobies.

      If they are man boobies, it might even work better as a distraction, but the lawsuit for emotional scarring will probably be more than the cup o coffee.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by BarryJacobsen (526926)

      or even tether a number of laptops together at a coffee shop that charges for WiFi

      That coffee shop has to pay for its connection, and bandwidth is a limited resource. Is Engadget going to instruct us on how to distract the employees while you pour free coffee into your thermos too?

      Don't be silly - Engadget would never support you distracting an employee to steal coffee! The review for the device that distracts the employee for you is due any moment now, though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Duradin (1261418)

      Bandwidth isn't the only limited resource. Physical space is a limited resource.

      That "overpriced" coffee includes the rent for the space (resources) you take up. If the place is charging for WiFi then it is because too many people were ordering a single small coffee of the day and then plunking themselves down for the day with their laptop and not ordering anything else.

      If you like the coffee house enough to go there and make use of its services you should also be willing to pay for them. Really good coffee

    • by vertinox (846076)

      Is Engadget going to instruct us on how to distract the employees while you pour free coffee into your thermos too?

      Hrm... Bad analogy.

      The Cofeeshop already sold you the coffee (bandwidth) by the temporary key and you are simply pouring it in someone else's cup free of charge by running windows 7.

      • Re:Stealing (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dogtanian (588974) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @03:28PM (#29966946) Homepage

        Is Engadget going to instruct us on how to distract the employees while you pour free coffee into your thermos too?

        Hrm... Bad analogy.

        The Cofeeshop already sold you the coffee (bandwidth) by the temporary key and you are simply pouring it in someone else's cup free of charge by running windows 7.

        Another bad analogy. Okay, my turn to play the silly moral analogy game...

        This is more akin to visiting a place that gives free refills, and you constantly pouring it in someone else's cup, then doing the same for all your friends, in the process using far more coffee than you would reasonably have drunk yourself. You know damn well that wasn't the deal that was being offered. (*)

        You're ultimately gaming the system- regardless of what "agreement" you think you have with them, it's probably against the spirit of the deal. Doing this type of thing with (e.g.) small businesses that aren't too assholish is ultimately what forces them to include irritating small-print restrictions on such services which I'm willing to bet people would be the first to whine about.

        (*) Please *don't* say "that was the agreement I get an hour's free Internet with my $1.50 coffee, it's mine, I can do what I like with it, their bad business model isn't my problem". There probably wasn't an "agreement" in that much detail- lots of thing in a given society function on implicit understanding of how they work (e.g. you don't get arrested for trespassing if you enter some random shop because any reasonable person would say that's how shops work). Or they may well have some small print in some terms and conditions that you (understandably) didn't want to read before you took up their offer. Or whatever... even if it was "legal", see the final paragraph above.

        • by vertinox (846076)

          Another bad analogy. Okay, my turn to play the silly moral analogy game...

          This is more akin to visiting a place that gives free refills, and you constantly pouring it in someone else's cup, then doing the same for all your friends, in the process using far more coffee than you would reasonably have drunk yourself. You know damn well that wasn't the deal that was being offered.

          Arguably, using the technique to garner free refills for your friends or say ordering a water and then using free soda is not technic

          • by vertinox (846076)

            And by social contract... I mean implied. Unless the store specifically puts up a sign that says "No refills for friends!" or "No sharing your wifi access to friends while in the store!" then there is no outright understanding between the two parties on what is the acceptable behavior while you are in the store other than social norms.

            Its still ethically dubious but because there is not moral or legal code dictating this behavior then the stores only recourse is to post their rules or make them known verbal

            • by Dogtanian (588974)

              Arguably, using the technique to garner free refills for your friends or say ordering a water and then using free soda is not technically morally wrong.

              I'm not sure what you mean by "technically morally" wrong; and as the other guy said, you probably *did* pay specifically for the water rather than soda, so it's ethically wrong, and arguably morally wrong too if it's a small enough business to affect those who work there.

              And FWIW, in that case it's probably "legally" wrong since you were taking something you didn't pay for. In reality, of course, it's not going to be worth their time pursuing that one- they'll say "GTFO and don't come back" and it'll end

          • ordering a water and then using free soda

            Maybe it's different where you're from, but soda isn't "free". Refills are free, but you're supposed to pay for the cup, and putting soda in a water cup would be both morally wrong and illegal.

    • Clearing the Static (Score:3, Informative)

      by huckamania (533052)
      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."

      One a
    • by pete6677 (681676)

      Any business who relies on making money this way will be short-lived. With the proliferation of mobile internet devices and the coming rollout of new technologies such as WiMax, WiFi won't be the valuable commodity it is today.

  • I read the article and it does not make clear if it will work with any card.

    I ask this because I was looking to do this some time ago (I want to connect my DS and Wii to internet using my existing PC as an access point) and, although there was some software (now discontinued) that allowed you to do that on WIndows, and on Linux you had to spend your time with ifconfig and whatnot (it was never clear for me, but the first step was to change your wifi card to AP mode).

    Thus I wonder if this Vista feature would

    • Seems ironic.. and on Linux you had to spend your time with ifconfig and whatnot (it was never clear for me, but the first step was to change your wifi card to AP mode). and then your sig says Ubuntu is an African word meaning 'I can't configure Debian'... I'm guessing you're a Ubuntu user?
    • This comes from the FAQ at the download site (www.connectify.me)

      "These older devices are known to be compatible:

      Intel 5100/5300 (with latest drivers from Intel's site, version 13.0.0.107)

      Ralink RT2870 (in many 802.11n USB dongles)

      Broadcom 4310-series (in many Dell laptops)

      Realtek RTL8187SE (with the drivers that came with Windows 7)

      D-link AirPlus G DWL-G510 Wireless PCI Adapter (driver version 3.0.1.0)

      Dell 5520 (builtin many Dell laptops)

      Atheros AR5007EG with 8.0.0.238 firmware

      These older devices a

  • This has been standard and expected functionality in Linux for years; practically as long as wi-fi cards have been supported. Why the hell is this news? Microsoft didn't even complete the support, it's a third party hack... This is worse than the claim that Aero Glass was revolutionary.
    • by crow (16139) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @03:36PM (#29967014) Homepage Journal

      Yes, you can do virtual access points with the Mad WiFi drivers, but I'm not aware of any other drivers that support that. I use this to have my Linux home server provide both a public open network and a private encrypted network with a single physical wireless card.

      But it's certainly not standard functionality, or I could have used any supported WiFi card and not be tied to a specific driver.

  • What is the difference between this and creating an ad-hoc network and enabling internet connection sharing for the physical port in Vista (and XP, and OS X, and Linux)?
    • Re:Internet sharing? (Score:5, Informative)

      by jfim (1167051) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @01:38PM (#29965650)

      What is the difference between this and creating an ad-hoc network and enabling internet connection sharing for the physical port in Vista (and XP, and OS X, and Linux)?

      It's an actual access point, not an ad hoc network. My Android Dev Phone 1(which does not support connecting to ad hoc networks) can connect to it.

    • by prockcore (543967)

      That only works if you then have ethernet connected to the internet. This lets you become an access point, and connect to another access point using a single card.

  • by ticklemeozmo (595926) <justin.j.novack@nOSpam.acm.org> on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @01:36PM (#29965624) Homepage Journal
    They were vigilant about blocking mailinator domains, so if you just want the direct link to download: http://www.connectify.me/a103dk/ConnectifyInstaller.exe [connectify.me] Or visit: http://www.connectify.me/thanks.html [connectify.me]
  • "Virtual" hotspot? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Captain_Chaos (103843) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @01:46PM (#29965764)
    Why a "virtual" hotspot? What's virtual about it? If this turns a Windows PC into a Wi-Fi access point, then surely that's a hotspot plain and simple?
    • by Toonol (1057698) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @02:07PM (#29965996)
      "Virtual" because it's on a computer, duh. "Cyber" would be an acceptable alternative prefix.

      "2.0" could be added as a suffix, if it used Javascript.
    • From what I understand, they virtualize the WiFi card into two devices, the access point (so other computers can connect to your "access point") and the client (so you can get the internet access from a wireless access point).
    • by selven (1556643)

      Because virtualization is the 2009 buzzword of the year. Next year it'll be a cloud hotspot or something.

  • by modemboy (233342) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @02:20PM (#29966198)

    So this feature was created by Microsoft Research back in 2005, and has been available for download ever since: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/downloads/994abd5f-53d1-4dba-a9d8-8ba1dcccead7/ [microsoft.com]

    I fail to see how this is news, they included it by default in Win 7 and someone accessed it, yay. This has been doable for 4 years...

  • ... that an OS was just released with incomplete, unimplemented, undocumented, untested code? Has that ever happened in the history of computing before? This sounds incredible! Maybe MS can get a patent on it!
  • Intel has a very similar tech called MyWifi in their newer cards, it uses Windows ICS so it differs in implementation, but does offer a full AP mode while being connected to an external wifi network.
    http://ces.cnet.com/8301-19167_1-10139172-100.html [cnet.com]

It's time to boot, do your boot ROMs know where your disk controllers are?

Working...