There is an unfinished feature built into Windows 7 that allows a laptop to become a hotspot. Microsoft originally was going to include the feature, but during development dropped it from the final version. Now a company is beta testing its software, which is free for the download, that takes advantage of this feature.
On the Connectify Web site, the company states:
What versions of Windows does Connectify run on?
Connectify runs on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 r2, both in either 32 or 64 bits.
Does it run on Windows Vista or Windows XP?
Sorry, not at this time. Connectify depends on improvements made in Windows 7 to operate. Frankly, Windows 7 is such a big improvement, that we suggest you’re better off upgrading than waiting for us to get all this working on an older version of Windows.
Do my friends need Windows 7 in order to connect to my Connectify hotspot?
Absolutely not, any Wi-Fi enabled device can connect to your network without any additional configuration or software.
Can I still join a Wi-Fi network while my computer is acting as a Wi-Fi Hotspot?
Yes, absolutely. You can join a Wi-Fi network and run the Connectify Hotspot on the same Wi-Fi card, at the same time. The Connectify Hotspot is always on the same channel as the Wi-Fi network that you join, but Wi-Fi networks can share the same channel.
Am I allowed to share my Internet?
This depends on the terms of service of your Internet Service Provider. Many have terms against reselling the connections, however sharing with friends, family and your other computers is generally fine.
The beta version of the software is currently available at the link below. If you do decide to try it, let us know what you think.