Last Updated Nov 3, 2009 8:01 PM EST
It appears that Microsoft built a lot of the low-level plumbing to allow for these impromptu Wi-Fi hotspots into Windows 7 (I am avoiding calling it an ad-hoc hotspot, because Windows already supports ad-hoc networks, and that would just be confusing), but didn't complete the job.
Finishing the job is Connectify, a program that allows any Windows 7 computer to leverage its existing wired or wireless connection to become a hotspot.
This is quite amazing; just assign your computer an SSID and password, and moments later it is a full-fledged hotspot that any Wi-Fi device (computer, iPhone, media player, wireless printer) can connect to.
Connectify is currently in beta, and probably an early beta, at that. One of my laptops failed to work with Connectify for some arcane networking configuration reason I didn't quite understand. Another laptop worked like a charm. The developer seems committed to this project, talking about a 2-tier pricing plan (free with advertising and a premium subscription plan) after the program leaves beta. For now, it's free, and worth trying out if you ever have more devices than Wi-Fi connections. [via PC World]