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Wireless Networking Software Hardware

Microsoft Virtually Duplicates Your Wireless Card 222

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the engineers-having-fun dept.
akhomerun writes "Microsoft has released version 1.0 of its experimental new VirtualWiFi Software. The free software enables Windows users to use a single wireless card to connect to multiple wireless networks simultaneously. The current build is a very primitive release, with no support for WEP or WPA encryption."
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Microsoft Virtually Duplicates Your Wireless Card

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  • by random_culchie (759439) on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @06:05AM (#13815527) Homepage Journal
    You need two Wifi cards to do some man in the middle attacks..

    Will this make it easier ;)
  • Network Bridge? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AnimeEd (670271) on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @06:06AM (#13815530)
    Does this mean we can connect to an AP and then connect using ad-hoc using the same card to another computer? This would result in a relay
    • Re:Network Bridge? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Fortress (763470) on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @07:25AM (#13815778) Homepage
      Does this mean we can connect to an AP and then connect using ad-hoc using the same card to another computer? This would result in a relay

      Only if there is routing between the two connections, which I suspect will be optional.

      • And Windows has built-in routing software. Check out that "Internet Connection Sharing" thingy :D
      • Re:Network Bridge? (Score:5, Informative)

        by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @08:32AM (#13816090) Homepage Journal
        Does this mean we can connect to an AP and then connect using ad-hoc using the same card to another computer? This would result in a relay
        Only if there is routing between the two connections, which I suspect will be optional.
        Or bridging. Windows XP has built-in bridging. Bridging is different than routing in that it occurs on Layer 2, while routing occurs on Layer 3.

  • What the crap? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wolrahnaes (632574) <sean@seanharlow[ ]fo ['.in' in gap]> on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @06:08AM (#13815535) Homepage Journal
    This just doesn't look like typical Microsoft, and IMO that's a good thing...

    Source code, a simple web site, and command line operation.....what more could I ask for?

    Thanks, Microsoft (geez I still feel wierd saying that....)
    • Re:What the crap? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jugalator (259273) on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @06:49AM (#13815664) Journal
      I see it's from their research division... They sometimes seem uncorrupted by their marketing machine. ;-) They have other projects going on too, like ConferenceXP [conferencexp.net] (yes indeed, source here too), and Netscan [microsoft.com]. Kind of interesting projects [microsoft.com] actually.
    • by mattjb0010 (724744) on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @06:54AM (#13815678) Homepage
      This just doesn't look like typical Microsof

      A primitive release with security to be added later? Sure sounds like Microsoft to me.
      • Re:What the crap? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by grazzy (56382)
        Compared to what? Google GMail Beta? Firefox with its endless trail of patches? WU-FTPD? Sendmail?

        They released free software that makes cool stuff, quit complaining!
        • Compared to what? Google GMail Beta? Firefox with its endless trail of patches? WU-FTPD? Sendmail?

          1. Your examples suck. GMail is fully secure. try using it with https... no other major free webmail provider has that. Firefox is probably the most secure, functional browser you can use today.
          2. GP post refers to Microsoft's security outlook which spawned their current dilemma. It's a fricking joke, deal with it.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Please... tell me there's a catch. I'm not ready for the apocalypse yet.
    • Re:What the crap? (Score:3, Informative)

      by FST777 (913657)
      The Microsoft Research Shared Source license agreement (MSR-SSLA) is actually a license, made by Microsoft, which permit free use of the software and the source (if any) for non-commercial use, provided that any modification are subject to the license (in which Microsoft may make full use of the software).

      As such, it is nearly Open Source... but if you make modifications, you are volutarely working for Microsoft.

      not too bad though...
      • but if you make modifications, you are volutarely working for Microsoft

        Surely that's a good thing, if it results in more MS software being released under more open-source friendly licences?

        (It's also no different to any open source project - contribute fixes/features to red hat packages and you're voluntarily working for RH, etc)
        • there is a little difference though but my personal opinion is that it's an important one. under the GPL (for example) anybody can use the end result for whatever they feel like (commercial use mainly) while here only microsoft can do that. So you can use it at home but not at work for instance. I do not believe this is 'open source friendly' licence. It's an 'open source' licence but is it friendly to other licences?
  • Great Idea (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pinkocommie (696223)
    I currently use dual nics to connect to my home and office network as I presume a lot of other people do, this should help reduce costs in similar scenarios. I didnt install it cause of the WEP/WPA limitations, did anyone else try it? If so does this allow bridging connections?
    • Re:Great Idea (Score:3, Informative)

      by glesga_kiss (596639)
      I currently use dual nics to connect to my home and office network as I presume a lot of other people do

      Why? Do you need to connect to both wireless networks at the same time? All WiFi cards should have some profile management software, even if it is the basic stuff that comes with the OS.

      • currently use dual nics to connect to my home and office network as I presume a lot of other people do Why? Do you need to connect to both wireless networks at the same time? All WiFi cards should have some profile management software, even if it is the basic stuff that comes with the OS.

        Maybe he lives in his office ;)

      • Re:Great Idea (Score:3, Interesting)

        by b0bby (201198)
        My wife uses 2 cards; her office network requires Cisco authentication which isn't supported by the built in wireless card, but at home the built in gets a better signal & you don't have the card hanging out the side.
  • Not SDR...? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ottffssent (18387) on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @06:09AM (#13815539)
    The blurb makes it sound like this is essentially a way to quickly switch the hardware from one AP to another, buffering packets until the hardware is connected to the proper AP. I'm curious how efficient this process is, as there's bound to be some switching latency. For low-bandwidth non-latency-bound tasks, I assume it's virtually seamless, but I wonder how non-latency-bound you'd need a task to be before it starts becoming problematic.

    Wouldn't a proper software-defined radio be the real solution, allowing connections to 2 APs simultaneously with only one antenna? Obviously Microsoft's working with what they've got, and it's certainly an interesting capability, but I'd rather see real effort on SDRs, particularly the regulatory issues therewith.
    • Roaming? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tune (17738)

      The blurb makes it sound like this is essentially a way to quickly switch the hardware from one AP to another, buffering packets until the hardware is connected to the proper AP.

      Great idea! That would allow you to switch access points while you're on the move; similar to ordinary cellular networks. The buffering would indeed create some latency, but if both connections are already established it should hardly be noticeble.

      Wouldn't a proper software-defined radio be the real solution, allowing connections t

    • Notice, when you do a scan with your card it steps through the channels. It is tuning just like an FM radio would do or even a television set.

      On a lot of cards the tuner is more then likely limited to one frequency at a time.

      Now, the way I understand the A,B,G cards... they are software tuned... but I really doubt the whole mess just sends everything to the driver.

      The concept is fairly simple. Filter out everything you don't want to hear, lock onto a carrier and adjust slightly for any signal drift. A slidi
    • I'm curious how efficient this process is, as there's bound to be some switching latency

      They actually talk about that on the page.

      From: http://research.microsoft.com/netres/projects/virt ualwifi/faq.htm [microsoft.com]

      Q: What is the time taken by a card to switch to another wireless network?
      A: This number varies across cards. It also varies across networks, and across ad hoc and infrastructure networks. In our experience, switching delays vary from 100 ms to 600 ms across commercial cards. Over special Native WiFi cards, t
    • For some steps toward 802.11b SDR, check out my student's Summer of Code [pdx.edu] project [pdx.edu]. Volunteers gratefully accepted!

      An issue we didn't recognize when starting out is that 802.11b actually wants 120MHz or more of bandwidth for a single low-speed channel; it really does spread a lot. Our current hardware really only gives us 60MHz, which will capture the main lobe, which should be enough. Eventually, we might have to go to a hybrid "soft" radio where the despreading is done with some kind of front-end magic,

  • Awesome! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    p0wn3d by two k1dd13z at the same time!
  • With Source ??? !!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gopal.V (532678) on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @06:13AM (#13815552) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft releasing tech previews with source code ? I mean, what has the world come to ?. Oh, sure it is under Shared Source license - but it raises serious questions about the way MS is dealing with the latest challenge from F/OSS. After all students are the major inflow of talent into F/OSS (starting from Linus Torvalds ...).

    The only thing that scares me is that their website has an image that is 960x720 px resized using img tag height and widths - Which looks like it was done in powerpoint using 3DText. I wanted to pull the code and read it to see if it was some kind of trojan or something. All in all, it looks too unprofessional (website mainly) - at least compared to all the open source project sites I've run into.

    • They're probably too busy finishing their software to finish their website. Shame the same can't be said for a lot of open source projects.
      • Hmm, what's with the surge of attacks on open source lately? Not even particulary good attacks.
        I'm getting paranoid I think.
    • They likely created the page in about two minutes. It looks like a page which was originally created for internal employee access, functional only with no intent towards glamour.
  • by AthenianGadfly (798721) on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @06:15AM (#13815558)
    In related news, another Microsoft department is releasing a new DRM scheme that will prevent "unauthorized duplication of your wireless card, virtual or otherwise."
  • WTF (Score:3, Funny)

    by 0x4B494C4C (921771) on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @06:19AM (#13815570)
    Innovation. From the beast..... I need to sit down :-)
    • Re:WTF (Score:3, Informative)

      by cduffy (652)
      Yes, but as pointed out in another post [slashdot.org], the actual innovation [cornell.edu] happened before the fellow [cornell.edu] was hired.
  • Original Page... (Score:5, Informative)

    by perlionex (703104) * <joseph@ganfamily.COBOLcom minus language> on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @06:31AM (#13815612) Homepage
    ... found using Google, at: http://www.cs.cornell.edu/people/ranveer/multinet/ software.htm [cornell.edu] And the author's page, which follows quite naturally: http://www.cs.cornell.edu/people/ranveer/ [cornell.edu] ...which, if you look at it, will explain the origins of this "Microsoft" project :) His papers on "MultiNet" date back to June 2003.
    • by kfg (145172)
      Why is it drug addicts and computer afficionados are both called users?

      Stop asking silly questions and just boot up already.

      KFG
  • by dud83 (815304) <dud@@@dudcore...net> on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @06:38AM (#13815626) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft released something with sources...
    Quick! Someone brutally abuse their trust by ripping off the design and idea. Release a fully (and better) working Linux VirtualWiFi driver by tomorrow!

    Hack evil minions! Hack hack hack!!!
    • Abuse Microsoft's trust? First, that implies they are capable of trust. History indicates otherwise. Liar's don't believe in anyone else. Second, the point of providing source code is so others can improve it and benefit from it. Why provide source if you don't want to allow others to use it?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @06:48AM (#13815658)
    The comments on the website indicate that the code buffers traffic meant for another AP between switching networks. This of course is hindered by the time it takes to complete the 802.11 authentication and association exchange as indicated with the suggested timer values for the supported wireless cards.

    Intel Centrino cards are well-known in the industry as being particularly aggressive at associating and authentication to an access point after being deauthenticated, thereby shortening the time needed to switch between different networks. It's unfortunately Centrino cards aren't on the supported list yet, they would make for an interesting evaluation target to use this kind of technology in a sort of mesh wireless network.
  • Thanks (Score:5, Funny)

    by thedarkone64 (890959) on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @06:54AM (#13815680)
    Thanks, Microsoft (geez I still feel wierd saying that....)

    Why should you feel weird saying that? I say it all the time. Oh wait, I normally say it sarcastically.
  • I wonder... (Score:2, Interesting)

    How much use this will really get. Connecting two wireless networks may be 'cool,' but how many offices maintain two separate wireless networks? I am sure there are some, as some of you will surly point out. If you want an internal wireless network, that should already exist since you wireless network should be behind your router/firewall anyways.
    • Re:I wonder... (Score:5, Informative)

      by svanstrom (734343) <tony@svanstrom.org> on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @07:09AM (#13815722) Homepage
      You could use it to share a WLAN with a second computer/PDA/whatever, which can't connect directly... either because it's too far away, or isn't allowed (hasn't paid, not part of the company or simply blocked because some idiot login-requirements forcing people to use IE).
    • Re:I wonder... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Plopping two WiFi devices (or more) between some type of routing app and I have _much_ faster bittorrent/LinuxISO/whatever downloads. This way I am working over two (or more) networks so not only do I have speed I have redundancy.

      The fact that you can acquire it MUCH cheaper while connected to say 4 diffrent WLANs, with only one PCMCIA card, then you can say with 3 diffrent physical PCMCIA, makes it I would say pretty popluar. (I'm not sure about you but my laptop only came with two slots.) ...or am I missi
      • Re:I wonder... (Score:3, Informative)

        Plopping two WiFi devices (or more) between some type of routing app and I have _much_ faster bittorrent/LinuxISO/whatever downloads.

        I doubt it. The two virtual WiFi devices will probably run at less than half the speed each.

        Or if you're only worried about doubling the speed of the internet connection, and not the wireless, you're better off with a dedicated router hard wired to both internet connections with a single wireless network on the other end of the NAT.

    • Re:I wonder... (Score:2, Interesting)

      Connecting two wireless networks may be 'cool,' but how many offices maintain two separate wireless networks?

      Seems more likely to be used for using two wireless networks from different people than from a single one. Now you can have your laptop talk to your internal network at the same time you leech internet access off your neighbor. In a roaming application you can search out new wifi connections while maintaining your original one, and then hand off the connection seemlessly (for UDP or other non-co

  • Interesting... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by EddyPearson (901263)
    Its very strange that Microsoft would be doing this, totally out of chatacter for them which makes me think that using multiple wireless networks is something that going to play an integral part of a future product.

    Watch this space.
    • Re:Interesting... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by EddyPearson (901263)
      i hate to double post but look here:
      Multiple cards: The kernel implementation of VirtualWiFi supports multiple cards. However, we have not incorporated this support in the user level code of this release.

      Meaning its going to be, if not already implemented in the Longhorn kernel. They're definatly aiming this at something, and since there's a user level implementation being created it means that whatever it is will probably be out before Vista has fully taken hold.
  • by Illserve (56215) on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @07:22AM (#13815772)
    At the moment, wireless AP's don't have to worry about frequent switching.

    But if everyone and their brother started using these things, suddenly a given AP is going to have to deal with a huge amount of hookup requests.

    Now admittedly I don't know much about the guts of an AP, and how limited their processing ability is (apart from bandwidth)... but this certainly isn't what they were designed for. I would be surprised if they could handle this kind of abuse from multiple users.

    Or am I completely off base?
    • But if everyone and their brother started using these things, suddenly a given AP is going to have to deal with a huge amount of hookup requests.

      I think this would depend more on how the wNIC behaves than on the AP's abilities...

      As the simplest case, why officially disconnect from AP #1 to join AP #2? Due to the flaky nature of wireless in general (not to mention sleep mode (the radio, not the PC) as part of the 802.11 standard), APs need to gracefully deal with vanishing clients all the time. This j
  • Awesome (Score:3, Funny)

    by Fortress (763470) on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @07:28AM (#13815792) Homepage

    If I connect them to each other, not only can I send files, email, pictures, etc to my computer from my computer, but with this technology I can do it wirelessly.

  • Bonding? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Fortress (763470) on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @07:31AM (#13815803) Homepage
    I'm really only interested if I can bond the two connections together and stea^H^H^H^H borrow twice as much bandwidth.
    • Uhm, if you mean combine the two pipes (on separate subnets) into one, no, that won't work. If you mean take two interfaces and multiplex the gateways, well, that would have so much latency as to not be worth it.
  • Double speed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JDStone (741327)
    I'm wondering if you could effectively double your speed by connecting to more than one access point. Wireless access is everywhere today, you could set up your laptop and instantly get at least 2 access point connections almost anywhere, like San Francisco for example.
  • I don't have a wifi cardbus card to play with but maybe someone else does. Mac OS allows network sharing, where you can for example, run an ethernet cable to your mac, and "share" that network on your wireless nic, to other nearby wireless users. The opposite is also possible, to pull in a wireless signal and share it on your ethernet port. (useful for when you have a 2nd computer that is not wifi capable, and no way to run a cable, but you have another mac with wifi and ethernet to act as a bridge)

    Would
  • ...without dropping the connection at least once a day, I'd be happy. Microsoft, makers of the finest semi-functional software in the world!
  • There's already implemented Linux IEEE 802.11 stack supporting multiple BSSID ( Virtual AP ) and multiple client mode ( Virtual STA ) connections on the same radio interface simultaneously. And it supports WEP/WPA/WPA2 encryption on every virtual interface. And it's linux thing!!
    This is yesterday's press release I found http://i-newswire.com/pr48263.html [i-newswire.com]
    and link to their site http://www.wilibox.com/index.php?id=wili [wilibox.com]
  • http://insight.zdnet.co.uk/communications/0,39020 4 18,39231005,00.htm/ [zdnet.co.uk]

    YAY Microsoft!

    You knew it was happening, it would be really nice if serious open source projects stayed away from this stuff until there is a decisive technological leader/standard.

    With Wi-Fi equipment hitting $20 only 2 years after it was created there will definitly be a push by the Hardware Manufacturers to try to implement a more expensive standard, lets not let that happen.

    ./team HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
  • Since I spend about 5 hours/week in airline "Red Carpet Clubs" (btw, the carpet's never red, but that's another story), and "Admiral's Clubs", some of which have Wi-Fi, I've always thought of this idea:

    1. Receive Wi-Fi (or use my EV-DO card for a a connection)

    2. Reserve it, making it look like the airport lounge's version

    3. Replace every google ad served with my own!

    4. Steal credit card numbers, etc

    5. Profit!

    Of course, I wouldn't really do this, but since such an attack is very possible, I'm VERY ca

  • by jlseagull (106472) on Tuesday October 18, 2005 @11:51AM (#13817767) Homepage
    In cell networks, each handset retains a low-level session to at a minimum two cell towers. When the signal from one tower gets too low, it pops over to the other.

    Good things about this technology:

    - I see this technology being used to reduce handoff delays between networks, or even between access points. The neat thing is that it does it on the client side, not the infrastructure side.

    - The thing that this is going to be best at is mitigating the problems streaming video or audio across a network, where delays of 50ms can kill your stream.

    - Solutions like MobileIP where each AP becomes aware of a care-of address that the client was previously associated with help handoff, but require new firmware on the access point or router. This puts that intelligence on the client side. Increasing the queue depths on both sides couldn't hurt, however.

    - Because 90-95% of the handoff time between access points is a rescan for new channels, keeping a session going between two different networks and being aware of the channels around you will actually reduce congestion and handoff time because there is no rescan and its consequent flood of PROBE frames which clog the channel with BROADCAST responses!

    - Because the clients will retain knowledge of who's around them, the access point's BROADCAST frames can come less often than the present ~100ms, increasing the available bandwidth.

    Not-so-good things about this tech:

    - Not a lot.

    - Subnet resolution might be a problem, no, wait, it wouldn't because they maintain a separate IP address for each virtual adapter. However, if those IP addresses are on the same subnet and someone pings the broadcast address of the subnet, the clients on the other network might respond as well... but I guess that would only happen if the virtual adapters were bridged.

    That's usually the problem with things like MobileIP - some routers don't get the message and update their routing tables so packets get duplicated all over the place.

    - Available IP address space problems. If everyone is opening two sessions...

    - Doesn't support WEP, but who cares. Everything important should be encrypted at the application level anyway. Thing that concerns me is the lack of 802.1x support.

    All in all, not a bad idea. I hope to see more out of these guys. I'm taking this down to the lab to run tcpdump and airopeek on it.
  • In truth this is a very cool if obvious idea. I had considered this myself, not to imply I have the skill to implement this sort of thing. I can see priority mode access being next to impossible this way, because the timing to ensure you don't miss the coordination info; but CSMA/CA seems like it would not take much modification to the driver beyond a round-robin setup to listen to each network for a fixed time, and a queues hold packets to be sent until the card is on the appropriate network. Sure

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