A Wi-Fi hotspot or access point allows you to connect to the internet through the wireless network adapter in your computer, notebook, tablet or smartphones. If your desktop computer does not have a wireless adapter, then you can get a simple USB Wi-Fi adapter to connect to the Wi-Fi hotspots. When you switch on the Wi-Fi adapter or connect the USB Wi-Fi adapter, Windows usually detects all the available hotspots or access points that you can connect to. But Windows just shows you the hotspot names and a graphical signal strength. It gives no more information about these hotspots, limiting the factors that you can consider to pick a network from all the access points. If you want to know more about the hotspots that you are going to connect to, then you can use the free SecurityXploded WiFi Hotspot Scanner.
The SecurityXploded WiFi Hotspot Scanner is available both in form of a setup installer and as a portable application. Before you use this application, you must switch on the Wi-Fi adapter in your computer. If you have a USB Wi-Fi adapter, then you should insert it in a USB port of your computer.
In any case, when you launch the program, it quickly scans the available Wi-Fi hotspots in the proximity of your computer. You can also click on the Start Wi-Fi Scan button to make it scan for the available hotspots. In the scanned list of the hotspots, you can see the names (also called SSID), authentication types, signal strength, frequency channel, Wi-Fi adapter version, MAC address and the detection time.
You can choose one of the hotspots from the list that has highest signal strength and that is compatible with your wireless network adapter. But you will have to connect to that hotspot using the Windows interface. This application does not give any options to connect to any of the scanned hotspots.
The WiFi Hotspot Scanner application also allows you to save the list of the scanned Wi-Fi networks in form of a CSV, HTML, XML or TXT file, so that you can refer to the list later on.
Conclusion: Though Windows automatically detects the nearby Wi-Fi hotspots, you can get much more information about these hotspots using the free SecurityXploded WiFi Hotspot Scanner, such as the signal strength, authentication type, Wi-Fi adapter version and so on.
You can download SecurityXploded WiFi Hotspot Scanner from http://www.softpedia.com/get/Network-Tools/Misc-Networking-Tools/WiFi-Hotspot-Scanner.shtml.