Windows 8 - Mobile Networks

Windows 8 to be smarter on managing mobile and wireless networks

Microsoft unveiled new changes in Windows 8 to provide a better experience managing mobile broadband and wireless networks. These new changes make it much easier for users to roam between networks and services, getting to what is important faster (getting work done, surf the Internet and socialize), and without hassle.

In a new article from the Building Windows 8 website, the software giant explains that users expect the same connectivity experience from smartphones on their PCs — be connected and ready wherever you are and whenever you want in a simple manner.

Windows 8 will simplify many of the aspect of how users manage and connect to different networks with a new redesigned wireless networking stack. For example, when connecting a new broadband hardware (e.g. mobile broadband dongle or embedded module and SIM), you won’t have to install a third-party software or device drivers in order to connect. Windows 8 has been prepared to handle all the configuration “in-box”, that way you just plug in the device and after a few seconds you are connected. The driver will always stay up to date with Windows Update to ensure reliable experience.

Windows 8 will consolidate experience and to avoid confusion, there is only going to be one place, one UI to manage all your network connections and radios. The new Windows network settings allows you to turn radios ON and OFF (wireless, mobile, or Bluetooth), as well as the capability to disable all radios with the new “airplane mode”. All this without the need of additional software.

In the upcoming version of Microsoft Windows, network connections are prioritized based on many behaviors and it learns as you change network preferences over time. For example, if a Wi-Fi network is available, Windows 8 will automatically disconnect your mobile broadband to avoid wasting data usage and increase battery life by powering down the mobile adapter. If no preferred wireless network is found, Windows will automatically reconnect the broadband hardware.

If you manually disconnect from a network, you will no longer be automatically reconnected to it. In the case you switch to a different wireless network, Windows will give this new network a higher priority.

When moving to different network environments, while the Windows 8 PC is on standby, reconnecting will only take a couple of seconds and it happens automatically.

To avoid “bill shock”, Windows 8 takes consideration of the network cost, because of carrier data caps, and it will adjust to network accordingly. Windows will disconnects a mobile broadband connection when a preferred Wi-Fi network in on range. While on mobile broadband: data quality gets reduce to conserve data usage, and re-authentication between networks are automatically. Also Windows Update will stop during mobile broadband until you connect to a non-metered network like, for example, your home broadband or Wi-Fi hotspot. But if there is critical security update to fix an important vulnerability. In this case, Windows Update will download the update, no matter in which network you are connected to.

Start screen with network settings pane

Windows 8 incorporates a new meter feature to control any wireless network by selecting “reduce data usage”, when you right-click any network connection.

If you want to know how much data you have consumed, Windows 8 has a local data usage counter right from the network settings pane, and you can reset at any time — really useful to monitor data usage month-to-month or within a session, but you should take in to account that these reports may be slightly different from your carrier data usage.

Lastly, the Windows 8 Task Manger can provide more information on network usage from each installed app. This is great when you need to identify which app is using a large percentage of the bandwidth and close it to reduce data usage when you are using mobile broadband.

Windows 8 Task Manager app history - Metered

Here is also a video that shows some of the improvement for wireless networking in Windows 8:

  • Vladimir Shulyaker

    Where is the “Manage Wireless Networks” button? I have Windows 8 Pro and cannot prioritize networks and cannot setup properties of each network – In Windows 7 it was easy and logical task