Windows 7 Hidden Bonus: Ad-Hoc Networking

Dennis Faas's picture

A Windows blogger has discovered that a feature supposedly removed from the starter edition of Windows 7 is in fact simply hidden. Thus, users of the new operating system (OS) can easily access the ability to run so-called ad-hoc networks.

An ad-hoc network, also sometimes known as a computer-to-computer network, is a way of wirelessly connecting two computers directly rather than through a router. For example, you might use this when the main computer in a home is connected to the Internet through a cable modem rather than a router, with the ad-hoc network then allowing laptops to share data with the main computer and also access the Internet.

For this to work, the main computer must be switched on and online, so it's not an ideal solution. Another common use for ad-hoc networks is for playing multiplayer games.

Menu Entry Deleted, Not Feature

Officially, ad-hoc networks can't be either created or joined by a computer running Windows 7's starter edition. This is the most basic edition of the system and is designed for low-spec portable machines such as netbooks.

However, Rafael Rivera of the Within Windows blog noticed that a particular netbook running the starter edition was able to create ad-hoc networks as soon as it was used. He then investigated how this was possible and discovered that the manufacturer had taken advantage of the fact that Microsoft has not, as advertised, removed the ad-hoc networking feature from the system.

Instead, it has simply removed the menu option for creating it.

Rivera also found that there is a remarkably easy way to access the feature: you simply click the start button and search for 'adhoc'. This will then bring up the set-up wizard which the removed menu option once pointed to. (Source

Users Scramble to Find More Hidden Goodies

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the discovery is that it gives more evidence to the widely-held belief that the actual code on each Windows 7 machine is very similar or even identical regardless of which editions of the system is running. The difference between different editions is simply which features are accessible. (Source:

Clearly in this case Microsoft has made a mistake by not completely blocking access to the feature. Effectively it's put a lock on the door but left the key under the doormat. That probably means the firm will quickly issue an update which undoes this mistake. However, it does mean there may be a sudden increase in the number of people taking a closer look at Windows 7 to see if there are any other features which have mistakenly been left accessible.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet