In the latest Building Windows 8 blog post, Microsoft revealed details of an improved wireless networking stack to improve access for mobile broadband and wi-fi networks.
One of the changes is the incorporation of ‘mobile broadband’ directly into the OS rather than relying on third party drivers and software as Windows devices with mobile network hardware needed in the past.
"In Windows 8, we developed an in-box mobile broadband class driver… The driver stays up to date via Windows Update, ensuring you have a reliable mobile broadband experience," wrote Microsoft networking program manager Billy Anders.
Microsoft went on to discuss how Windows 8 will automatically move to Wi-Fi networks when available, rather than mobile networks, turning off mobile radio hardware to save power where possible. In other words, exactly what every smartphone already does.
Compared to Windows 7, Windows 8 will connect to Wi-Fi much faster from standby, in around one second compared to the eight to twelve seconds the previous version of Windows managed the task. The OS will also detect when connecting to Wi-Fi with a so-called ‘captive portal’, eg. a web page that needs a username/password to continue, automatically bringing up the suitable web page.
The Windows 8 task manager will also display the bandwidth consumption of individual applications over ‘metered’ and ‘unmetered’ networks independently, a welcome addition for users looking to keep control over data hungry applications on 3G data plans.