One of the biggest gripes that people may have is the lack of 3G/4G/LTE connectivity on both versions of the Microsoft Surface. Of course, on Surface Pro you can plug in a dongle and add such connectivity but it can become cumbersome to have a USB device protruding from the tablet or a dongle hanging off the side.
If you’re staying in a hotel then you may have access to Wi-Fi however some will charge you to access the Wi-Fi on a “per device” basis. Personally, I think this is a rort but there is a way around it using your Microsoft Surface tablet (or any other Windows RT or Windows 8 tablet for that matter.
You can actually connect your tablet to Wi-Fi and then share that connection over Wi-Fi. This may sound strange as typically you would associate one physical network interface with one network but Windows RT and Windows 8 include something called “Wi-Fi virtualisation”. This was actually added under Windows 7 but relied upon your Wi-Fi adapter supporting such capabilities. What this does is it overcomes the limitation of the one to one relationship between hardware and a network interface and presents two “virtual adapters” which then share the same physical hardware. It’s a little like how you can run numerous virtual machines on your computer simultaneously whilst only have one set of hardware (CPU, RAM, hard drive, etc). However, these Wi-Fi interfaces have to operate within the confines of one piece of hardware which means that your speeds may drop as a result.
Anyway, how do you enable this functionality?
- Open an administrative command prompt,
- Type in netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=”MySSID” key=”Mykey” keyUsage=persistent where MySSID is the name of the new Wi-Fi network you want to create and Mykey is the password for the new Wi-Fi network shared from your tablet,
- Hit Enter,
- Start the new virtual network card by typing netsh wlan start hostednetwork which should then make a new virtual adapter appear in your network interface list,
- Go into Network and Sharing Center and click on the Wi-Fi network you want to share. It should list Access Type, HomeGroup and Connections. Next to connections will be the connection type and network name, something like WiFi (SSID) – in my case this says WiFi (Swissotel) but yours will obviously be different but click on that link,
- Click the Properties button in the bottom left corner of the new window,
- Click the Sharing tab,
- Tick Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection,
- Click OK,
- Click Close.
On your other devices, you should be able to connect them to your new virtual Wi-Fi network which will the reroute traffic via the original Wi-Fi network to which your tablet was connected. However, non-Windows devices may not be able to automatically obtain an IP address (I’ve found that my Asus Google Nexus 7 has had issues) so you’ll need to hardcode an IP address and DNS address in order to get things going.
As it stands, I now have three other devices using the Wi-Fi network without forking out four times the amount – not bad I reckon! 🙂