As mobile enthusiasts, we really can’t live without our connectivity. To that end, James bought a MiFi device, while I use a mishmash of methods, including a Boingo Wi-Fi account, a 3G data plan with Verizon Wireless (s vz) and Internet tethering on my iPhone as a backup. There’s a number of ways to share our 3G connections — the MiFi does it natively — but Windows 7 adds a new feature that one company is already taking advantage of. Microsoft (s msft) added Virtual Wi-Fi, which uses software to virtualize one or more hardware wireless adapters. And as ReadWriteWeb notes, Connectify is offering beta software to use the new Windows 7 feature.
With Connectify, you have a software solution to share the data connection of your PC — a secure hotspot with WPA2-Personal (AES) encryption is created via a virtual Wi-Fi interface, so any other Wi-Fi device you have can take advantage of your mobile broadband connection. And this differs from tethering options we’ve covered in the past (here for PC and here for Mac OS X) because tethering generally only allows one other device to leverage the connection. By creating a Wi-Fi hotspot, multiple devices can join in.
The obvious disadvantage of a software solution is that it requires your Windows 7 computer to be up and running. That’s where hardware like the MiFi excels — you don’t need to have computer on because the MiFi creates its own hotspot. Still, I see the advantage, so I’m hopping on the beta train for Connectify right now.