Tuesday, 18 October 2005

Now this is both interesting and kind of nifty... Microsoft Labs has published and posted a download for "Virtual WiFi," which allows a wireless card use to connect to more than one WiFi network at a time with a single wireless card.

VirtualWiFi is a virtualization architecture for wireless LAN (WLAN) cards. It abstracts a single WLAN card to appear as multiple virtual WLAN cards to the user. The user can then configure each virtual card to connect to a different wireless network. Therefore, VirtualWiFi allows a user to simultaneously connect his machine to multiple wireless networks using just one WLAN card. This new functionality introduced by VirtualWiFi enables many new applications, which were not possible earlier using a single WLAN card. For example,

  • With VirtualWiFi, you can connect to a guest's machine or play games over an ad hoc network, while surfing the web via an infrastructure network.
  • You can use VirtualWiFi to connect your ad hoc network, which may contain many nodes, to the Internet using only one node.
  • VirtualWiFi can help make your home infrastructure network elastic by extending its access to nodes that are out of range of your home WiFi Access Point.
  • Other possible uses are listed on the Virtual WiFi web pages at Microsoft Research
  • There are some limitations in this release. For example, the current version of VirtualWiFi does not support networks using WEP or 802.1X. Also - be sure to review and follow the install/uninstall instructions carefully and note that this is not production grade software (when they say Microsoft Labs, they actually mean it's, well, experimental).

    Installation (and uninstallation) of the app/service and drivers are done at the command prompt, after making some other manual changes (seriously, read the instructions before you start).


    Here's a screen shot snippet from my system after setting up the multiple connections. Shown are two connections created via Virtual WiFi: My infrastructure (IS) network (SSID=hughes), plus an ad-hoc (AH) network connection (SSID=TEST).

    It works. It's very manual and not for beginners (you have to disable the wireless auto configuration in Windows and manually install the service, set up connections, etc), but it's an interesting technological idea with some interesting possible uses.

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    Tuesday, 18 October 2005 19:47:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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