Microsoft Tests Wi-Fi Connection Tool

Microsoft began sending invitations Tuesday for testers to sign up for a beta of a Wi-Fi connection manager that would assist users in finding, registering with and using public wireless hotspots.

Called Windows Live Connection Center Wi-Fi, the service is split into two parts, an application and Web site component.

The application will automatically discover and assist in connecting to available wireless networks within range. Additionally, the client provides security features and an integrated hotspot database.

The companion site features a Web-based interface for finding Wi-Fi network, searchable by city, state or zipcode. Microsoft said it would integrate the hotspot locator with Windows Live Local, allowing users to see the physical locations on a map and obtain directions.

The software requires wireless connectivity running on Windows XP. Support for Vista will be added with the first release candidate, currently scheduled for September.

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