Microsoft Virtual Wi-Fi will allow one adapter to look like two
Back in the days before multiple core CPUs were the norm, Intel used virtualization technology to make your single CPU look like multiple CPUs to the operating system via Hyper -Threading. Microsoft long ago worked on similar technology that would allow a single wireless network adapter to be seen as multiple adapters by the operating system.
The research had seemingly gone by the wayside as Microsoft moved onto other projects. The publication istartedsomething reports that the Virtual Wi-Fi (VWIFI) feature has been included in Windows 7. In fact, the feature is in the release candidates, but no drivers are reportedly available to take advantage of the feature so it lies dormant waiting to come out and play.
Some users may wonder why more than one wireless card would be needed inside your computer. There are a few circumstances where multiple wireless adapters would be needed. For instance, users could connect to one wireless network and use the virtual adapter to turn their machine into a hot spot that other computers could connect to and share the internet access.
Another good usage scenario for the technology would be connecting to a wireless network while also connecting to a wireless adhoc network at the same time. Istartedsomething reports that supporting Virtual Wi-Fi is going to be a requirement for WLAN drivers sporting the Windows 7 certification logo, so drivers will be coming to add support for the feature.
The feature is described as, “On Windows 7 and later, the operating system installs a virtual device if a Hosted Network capable wireless adapter is present on the machine. This virtual device normally shows up in the “Network Connections Folder” as ‘Wireless Network Connection 2’ with a Device Name of ‘Microsoft Virtual WiFi Miniport adapter’ if the computer has a single wireless network adapter. This virtual device is used exclusively for performing software access point (SoftAP) connections […]. The lifetime of this virtual device is tied to the physical wireless adapter. If the physical wireless adapter is disabled, this virtual device will be removed as well.”
The caveat to the technology is that only one virtual adapter can be created. Technical information on the feature for hardware vendors and developers will be offered at the WinHEC session called “Wireless LAN Enhancements in Windows 7.”