Windows 7 Starter includes hidden wireless feature, says sleuth

Ad hoc networking thought to be unavailable in netbook edition is there, noted Windows blogger says

Microsoft may have buried a wireless networking feature in Windows 7 Starter, the edition installed on most netbooks, but it did not actually disable the ad hoc wireless feature, as the firm's marketing materials claim, a noted Windows blogger said today.

Ad hoc wireless networking, which lets several Windows computers share a single connection, was one of several networking features Microsoft claims are not available in Windows 7 Starter. Those features, which include ad hoc networking, Internet connection sharing and network bridging, are present in the more expensive, tools-laden editions, such as Home Premium and Professional.

But according to Rafael Rivera, ad hoc networking is present in Starter, albeit hidden.

"On Windows 7 Starter Edition, the 'Set up a wireless ad hoc network' link in the [Set Up a Connection or Network] dialog is missing," said Rivera in an entry on his Within Windows blog yesterday.

Rivera, who regularly roots out under-the-cover facts about Microsoft and Windows, most recently made news when he took Microsoft to task for lifting code from an open-source project for the company's Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool (WUDT). After Rivera disclosed the code appropriation, Microsoft yanked WUDT and then later announced it would re-release the tool as open-source. Last week, however, it postponed the re-release , saying it needed more time to test the revamped WDUT.

In an interview conducted via instant messaging today, Rivera confirmed that ad hoc networking is part of Windows 7 Starter.

"You're licensed to use ad hoc networking ... you're [just] not licensed to use the shortcut in this dialog [in Windows 7 Home Premium]," Rivera wrote in this blog. "To access the wizard that this link normally points to, simply Start Menu search for 'adhoc'."

By searching for "adhoc" in Starter, then launching the executable, netbook users can create an on-the-fly connection for sharing an Internet connection.

Rivera expects that Microsoft will close the loophole in a future update, hotfix or service pack. "I believe it's safe to assume this is an unintentional screw up. Enjoy it while you can, netbook cheapos," he said.

This is not the first time that a hidden networking feature of Windows 7 has been revealed. In October, a Philadelphia developer found an unfinished feature of Windows 7 that turns any laptop into a wireless access point, allowing other Wi-Fi-enabled devices to share the connection without special software. The "Virtual Wi-Fi" feature in Windows 7, which Microsoft at one point touted, was only half-finished, said Alex Gizis, CEO of Nomadio, whose programmers dug up the hotspot-making code.

Virtual Wi-Fi is similar to, but more flexible, than ad hoc networking.

Microsoft did not immediately reply to questions about ad hoc networking in Windows 7 Starter, including whether it will, as Rivera speculated, issue a patch that will completely disable the feature.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags MicrosoftWi-FiWindows 7

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?