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This seems unlikely, but is there a way to create a virtual wifi hotspot using Windows 7 that does not involve using Internet Connection Sharing or a wireless network adapter that can support sharing? Like maybe some type of device you can plug into the computer?

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You could try The Dovado TINY: the world's smallest 4G/LTE capable router

There are others out there by TP-Link, etc., but as I haven't tried any before I cannot recommend them.

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This method requires the ICS (internet connection sharing) service to function, not what RHPT wanted, left here only for referance.

There is a DonateWare program called "Virtual Router". Virtual Router will turn any simple Wi-Fi adapter , normally used for the computer side of a connection, into a wireless connection point that can be connected to "securely". http://virtualrouter.codeplex.com/

I have tested this piece of software in Windows 7. It was fun, the version I used was simple and easy.
I usually have a wired Net connection via Nat and Lans to my computer, and no other wireless device. I do not have a second wireless on the computer , or use wireless for my main net connection. I have not tested it with 2 wireless devices, although it should be possible with 2 windows supported ones.

The wireless device I used was purchased recently, It is a simple USB to Wi-Fi adapter, that would fit in a pocket, it was cheap, it was supported by windows via driver.

This is a simple version of my connection. . Internet---other stuff--MyComputer--VirtualRouter--Wi-Fi Adapter---Portable device. . Using the internet was easy on the portable device. I did not test things that require "direct connect".

From: http://virtualrouter.codeplex.com/documentation

First, you need to have a Wifi device and driver that both support the Windows 7 Virtual Wifi and Wireless Hosted Network features.

It is worth a try, if you know your adapter is supported well by windows 7 , or can purchace a new adapter with the proper windows 7 driver. With one cheap device I could set it up to use Wi-Fi (as designed) on that computer, in a few seconds and a few clicks, I could reverse that in software , and have it Be an available Wi-fi for another computer to connect to. Plus with a click it could be "shut off".

*when I used the word "securely" I dont mean to imply that wireless and wep/wap, or even all aspects of the program are safe from all evils, just that it does use secure, not "open" connections. It defaults specifically to secure connections, and I did not see a way to have it just be Open, even for testing.

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Virtual Router depends on the Internet Connection Sharing service. I need something that does not depend on that service. –  RHPT Jan 5 '12 at 18:23
    
Ok, Now I see. I had that service disabled completly . VR turned it back to auto. and started it. –  Psycogeek Jan 5 '12 at 18:36
    
Thanks for the answer anyway. I'm going to try that out. I also asked a version of this question that doesn't have the extra restriction of disabling the Internet Connection Sharing service. –  Jon Ericson Jan 25 '12 at 18:55
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