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Windows 8: 12 New Network Features

Eric Geier August 10, 2012
These changes simplify the networking process and add more mobile-related features as well as increase network support, reliability, performance, and security.
  • For IT administrators there are many new network-related features and changes in both Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 to be aware of. The changes are mostly targeted at simplifying the networking process and adding more mobile-related features.

  • Microsoft gave the network list in Windows 8 and Server 2012 a facelift, seemingly to better match the new Metro-style interface. When you click (or tap) on the network icon from the system tray, a solid colored window will pop out of the right side of the screen.

  • You'll also find a new feature on the top of the network list: Airplane mode, which will disable all wireless communications when turning on. Once you successfully connect to a network, you'll see a differently worded prompt asking if it's a private/work or public network.

  • You'll find more features on the network list when right-clicking (or tapping and holding) on a network name. Here you can enable data usage tracking and connection metering, “forget” the network to remove saved password/credentials, and turn sharing on or off.

  • By default, Windows 8 and Server 2012 track the amount of data usage per network, which can optionally be shown when you click on a network from the network list. This is useful to help track how much data you've used on mobile (3G/4G) and other networks that have usage limitations.

  • You can also enable connection metering for each individual network, which will then disable Windows Update from downloading updates (except for critical security patches) and possibly disable or reduce data usage from other Microsoft and non-Microsoft applications as well.

  • You’ll also find data usage stats added to the Task Manager, among the other changes. You can view current network usage and a history of usage listed along with the other resource stats per process.

  • The Network and Sharing Center has been streamlined a bit. For instance, you won’t see the Manage Wireless Networks shortcut on the left. This is because Windows doesn't allow you to manually prioritize your Wi-Fi networks anymore, but automatically does this for you based upon your connection behaviors.

  • In Windows 8 and Server 2012 you'll find a few new EAP types natively supported by Windows. Authentication types, including Wireless Internet Services Provider roaming (WISPr) and EAP-SIM/AKA/AKA Prime, ease the connection process to Wi-Fi hotspots.

  • Teaming provides network connection load balancing and failover by bonding two or more network interfaces. Now, starting with Windows Server 2012, NIC Teaming is part of the OS and supports Hyper-V networks as well.

  • The SMB (Server Message Block) protocol has been updated in Windows 8 and Server 2012, improving availability, performance, administration, and security of file shares and storage resources, while also adding more support for application server storage.

  • The new IPAM (IP Address Management) feature of Windows Server 2012 helps you discover, monitor, audit, and manage a network’s IP addressing. It supports management of domain-joined DHCP, DNS, and NPS servers running on Windows Server 2008 and above in a single Active Directory forest.

  • In Windows Server 2012, DHCP failover provides the ability to have two replicated DHCP servers serving IP addresses for the same subnet or scope. Policy based assignment lets you define prioritized policies for specific IP scopes and have IP addresses assigned against them.

Source: Network World (US)