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Here’s the scenario that brought me to write this article: the ISP I’ve signed up with decided to temporarily block the internet connectivity in our area. Where I live, it’s actually possible — things like these do happen without reason. Because of that, Mark O’Neill suggested purchasing a UMTS device that would allow me to go online just about anywhere with reception. So I did. It costed me quite a bit but I thought it would be worth the money.
Now, here’s the tricky part. In my home network, we have 2 Macs and one PC running on Windows XP. The UMTS device connects via USB. How do we decide who gets to use it? We put our thinking caps on and finally decided that it would be easier to share the internet connection using one of the Macs. I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.
Internet sharing between Macs is basically very easy but if you add a Windows PC into the mix, things get a little problematic. Sharing the internet connection between Mac and PC turned out to be harder than I thought. I’ll explain why in a minute. But first, let’s just assume that we only needed to share the connection between 2 (or more) Macs via AirPort (WiFi). It’s very simple.
Open System Preferences and click on Sharing.
Before Internet Sharing can be enabled, you first have to configure the proper settings.
In the ‘Share your connection from’ dropdown list, select the port that has internet connectivity. In the screenshot above, I have “Ethernet” selected when it actually should be USB — ignore that. Then select how you would like to share the connectivity. I chose AirPort so that I can share the connection with several other computers. Checking the box next to ‘AirPort’ unbricks the ‘Airport options’ button.
Click on that button and configure your network name and security options.
Alright, here’s where the whole Windows and Mac concoction starts to rear its ugly head. Due to the different methods that the two operating systems deals with Hex encryption, the password you enter here will not be easily accepted by Windows. A Windows PC will be able to detect the wireless network but it will not be able to join.
Here’s the workaround. Select the 128-bit WEP encryption option and enter a 13-character password. Then, rename the network to something really short without spaces. When you’re done, hit OK.
Now you can check the box next to ‘Internet Sharing’. You may get a prompt to start AirPort, click Start. Right, the connection is shared. Macs detect the network automatically (and so will iPhones and iPod touches) and will connect to it as though it’s a regular router.
On the Windows PC, a little bit of manipulation is required. Turn on the wireless adapter and right-click on its taskbar icon to select “View available wireless networks”. In the subsequent window, click on “Change advanced settings”.
Click on the Wireless Networks tab and then click the ‘Add’ button to add our shared network.
Print the network name accurately, then set the network authentication to ‘Shared’, data encryption to ‘WEP’, uncheck the box next to “This key is provided for me automatically” and enter the 13-character password.
Click on the Authentication tab and disable IEEE 802.1x authentication. Next, click on the Connection tab and make sure that it will connect when in range. Click OK and apply the settings.
It should now try to connect to the shared AirPort connection. Cross your fingers. This sort of busts the myth that Macs and Windows won’t work well together, doesn’t it?
I noted a few oddities during the whole procedure: 40-bit WEP encryption didn’t work when trying to share the internet connection between Macs and PC. The password was always incorrect. Then I changed it to 128-bit and everything was well. Also, the network name must not contain any spaces. The Windows PC wouldn’t connect to “Jackson Chung’s MacBook” but it connected with “jxn”.
How would you go about this procedure from a Window’s point of view? I would love to hear it. Tell me how — in the comments!