If you've ever been in a situation when you absolutely, positively, need to share a network connection wirelessly, and you have a PC with a wireless adapter that runs Windows 7, Connectify (from wireless mesh networking company Nomadio, Inc.) is the answer. Connectify (currently in beta) turns almost any Windows 7 PC with a working wireless network adapter into a fast and secure wireless access point.
*Connectify works with Windows 7 final and Windows 7 RC
**Update - some Intel network adapters might not work with Connectify - see Paul Lilly's comment below
Navigate to the Connectify Me website and click either the Download Beta button or Beta Test Now shield.
Enter registration information and click Submit.
Click the Click Here to Download Connectify link to download it immediately (instead of waiting for the promised email link which you might, or might not, receive on a timely basis).
Run the 1.41MB installer, and provide UAC information if prompted.
After you sign off on the license agreement, the installer does its work.
Click Next to continue, and click Finish. By default, Connectify will start, and a readme will open in your browser.
Setting Up Connectify
If you don't see the Connectify icon in the notification area, click the up arrow pointer to display additional icons. Click the Connectify icon.
The first time you start Connectify, you will see an error message. That's because Connectify needs you to provide a passphrase. Click the passphrase field and enter the text you want to use. You must enter at least eight characters (up to 32) for your passphrase text (you can display or hide the text as desired). Connectify uses WPA2 AES encryption for maximum security.
By default, Connectify uses Connectify as its SSID. To change the SSID, enter the name you prefer in the WiFi Name field.
If you have more than one connection you can share, select the connection to share from the Internet pull-down menu. You can use Connectify to share a wired connection (which is what I used for this article), or a wireless connection. You need only one wireless adapter to make sharing work, even if you're sharing a wireless connection wirelessly.
Click the Hotspot Off button to turn on the Connectify access point.
Connecting to a Connectify Access Point
Whether you use Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, MacOS, or Linux, connecting to the Connectify software access point uses the same procedures you use to connect to any secure wireless access point that broadcasts its SSID:
Select the SSID used by the network
Enter the passphrase when prompted
Make the connection
Make any firewall or other configuration changes requested by your wireless network client
Once other PCs have connected to the Connectify software access point, Connectify lists the computer(s) connected to it by their network names and IP addresses.
When you shut down the connection, Connectify "remembers" who was connected to the network, listing them as "disconnected clients."
Connectify works - and works well - because it relies upon new networking features built into Windows 7. Right now, Connectify costs nothing to try – and it provides a solid, secure, and fast connection. Whether you're looking for a quick way to share a wired connection in a hotel room or conference center, add wireless capability with Internet access to a home or office wired network, or set up a quick, easy LAN party without fiddling around with your normal network configuration settings, Connectify looks like a winner. It's one of the coolest reasons to move up to Windows 7.