Windows 8's new mobile Internet experience is awesome

Remember way back in 2001, when wireless 802.11 connections debuted in Windows XP? Until Service Pack 2 rolled around, the wireless Internet experience was heavily dependent on whatever funky (ugly, usually) connection software was included with your computer's wireless card. Fortunately, today we get a useful and pretty connection experience in Windows 7.

Now think of the same scenario for mobile cellular networks, except replace "Windows XP" with "Windows 7" and "Windows 7" with "Windows 8." While you could connect to mobile networks in Windows 7, it's up to you to get the drivers for your mobile broadband hardware, and the appropriate software to let you connect to a network.

That's all changing for Windows 8, as today's Building Windows 8 post explains.

With Windows 8, you get an experience that matches just about all smartphones out on the market today. You get a single connection UI that combines both Wi-Fi and mobile networks. You're offered the ability to turn on "metered Internet mode" (it's on by default for mobile networks) when you want to restrict data usage to essential applications - usually the app you're working with, not those pesky background updaters. And like on phones, Windows 8 will try to connect to a Wi-Fi network first, before falling back to mobile networks.

Setup is easy. Just insert your SIM and you're done. Microsoft has made available a generic driver that works with most broadband hardware; it'll try to get the latest driver from Windows Update if possible.

But the experience goes beyond that on phones. Lacking a data plan? Need to check up on your data usage? No need to hunt down for the carrier-specific app to do those - Windows 8 will automatically grab the app from the Windows Store. You don't have to do anything, other than connect. For instance, this is how AT&T's app looks like right now:

Windows 8 will also make sure to notify you before you blow any data caps. Great for all those people that don't enjoy receiving a massive stack of a bill.

But what if you don't ever plan on using mobile networks in Windows 8? No problem! There are some nice improvements done to the existing Wi-Fi experience that could justify an upgrade from Windows 7 or earlier.

First, wireless connections can resume in as little as one second from standby. That's right, one second. Second, Windows 8 will also remember which wireless networks you explicitly connect and disconnect from. The OS will not automatically reconnect to any network you disconnect from the list of networks. In addition, it will also remember to prioritize a network over another if you switch while connected to an existing wireless network. For those that were a bit frustrated over dragging around networks in Windows 7's "Manage Wireless Networks" window, this is a welcome change.

For an overview of the new mobile changes in Windows 8, check out the video below:

Image Credit: Building Windows 8

 

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What's in Windows-8 for those of us with serious work to do on laptops and desktops? Mobile devices are fine, but are still auxiliary devices.

TsarNikky said,
What's in Windows-8 for those of us with serious work to do on laptops and desktops? Mobile devices are fine, but are still auxiliary devices.

I hear people are doing serious work on iPads, so I figure Windows 8 being a full OS means you can do even more "work".

When i look at interface this looks like Circus. Desktop itself is almost identical to Windows 7 which leads to conclusion that Windows 8 primary focus is mobile and tablets.

Dear Microsoft Tablets are not a PC. At least they should be honest and say Windows 8 Tablet Edition.

techguy77 said,
When i look at interface this looks like Circus. Desktop itself is almost identical to Windows 7 which leads to conclusion that Windows 8 primary focus is mobile and tablets.

Dear Microsoft Tablets are not a PC. At least they should be honest and say Windows 8 Tablet Edition.

Glad to see someone else has seen through the Microsoft charade. Windows-8 is for designed for tablets and smartphones only. PC users will have to wait for Windows-9, or migrate to some other Operating System.

they have done a fair bit to the 'normal' windows explorer and added some much needed things like copy/paste manager, ISO mounting and lots of other small crap that helps out. so all around its a pretty solid effort

techguy77 said,
When i look at interface this looks like Circus. Desktop itself is almost identical to Windows 7 which leads to conclusion that Windows 8 primary focus is mobile and tablets.

Dear Microsoft Tablets are not a PC. At least they should be honest and say Windows 8 Tablet Edition.

Wrong I'm looking forward to using both Metro and classic interfaces. The new search screen looks wonderful.

Glad to see they're doing something about the Wifi taking so long. I never noticed a wait in Mac OS X, so it was strange to see it take so long when I switched to Windows 7.

Why does Neowin hate source links? Would it kill you to say 'Source: Windows 8 blog' with a link at the end of your article (for example, see Engadget). Instead they just duplicate the article. Links are the currency of the internet, don't you like when blogs link to you?

The most Neowin usually does is put the link in the body text behind descriptive phrases like "in a blog post". Too easy to skip over. Find a standard place for source links. If the link is somewhere on this page and I missed it, I apologize.

It's been standard policy to do inline links, usually around the name of the source in the first few paragraphs.

However this time I accidentally left out the link. I'll add it in. Thanks for the catch!

smooth3006 said,
now if we can get rid of metro!

I've seen your trolling behind around here many times. Be gone.

Lol.

smooth3006 said,
now if we can get rid of metro!

you really can't help your self in each windows topic
i bet your neighbors, classmates and coworkers hate you for your personalty

smooth3006 said,
now if we can get rid of metro!

most of android follows similar guidelines, so hey lets get rid of android UI while we are at it also.....

WP7 said,

I've seen your trolling behind around here many times. Be gone.

Lol.


Agreed lol.

There are well documented ways of disabling Metro if it bugs the op THAT much. Don't spoil it for the rest of us who are not afraid of change and giving something different a fair chance.

smooth3006 said,
now if we can get rid of metro!

Wake up - Metro is, and always has been, an *option*.

Metro was the default in the Developer Preview for one - and only one - reason - to give developers looking to write applications for Metro a platform to test their creations on. (What part of "Developer Preview" did you miss?)

As to why I have been doing rather exhaustive running of traditional software in Metro, *that* was done because there initially won't be that many Metro applicaitons available on retail shelves - that means that those Windows 8 users will be running traditional applications/games/etc. However, here's one thing I've noticed, even from the detractors - there's been little to zero complaints about application breakage due to Metro (in fact, so far, I have heard no complaints at all about application breakage due to Metro being either present OR the default). Could it be that traditional applications, games, etc. actually work just fine in the new optional UI?

In a word - YES.

There's some applications that will need rewrites - however, Metro itself isn't why.

some of the new desktop features I want, like watching the file copy / move status changes, and these new wireless updates, but the one thing I dont want on my desktop is metro! give me my start menu back! the entire time I used it in the dev preview I *HATED* it it's great for tablets and touch UI's yes, but on a desktop system I just hated it

and they still have the start button black, starting to feel like this isn't going to change even in the beta, feels like they want you to see it not blend in

neufuse said,
some of the new desktop features I want, like watching the file copy / move status changes, and these new wireless updates, but the one thing I dont want on my desktop is metro! give me my start menu back! the entire time I used it in the dev preview I *HATED* it it's great for tablets and touch UI's yes, but on a desktop system I just hated it

and they still have the start button black, starting to feel like this isn't going to change even in the beta, feels like they want you to see it not blend in

The taskbar

dagamer34 said,

The taskbar

what about it? I can pin 50 apps on it? please... everyones on about how clean windows is getting, yet we want to clutter stuff like the taskbar with pinned apps..

neufuse said,
some of the new desktop features I want, like watching the file copy / move status changes, and these new wireless updates, but the one thing I dont want on my desktop is metro! give me my start menu back! the entire time I used it in the dev preview I *HATED* it it's great for tablets and touch UI's yes, but on a desktop system I just hated it

and they still have the start button black, starting to feel like this isn't going to change even in the beta, feels like they want you to see it not blend in

Each to his own I guess, but I like it. I can quite easily see me staying in Metro alot of the time if app developers do their jobs right.

neufuse said,
some of the new desktop features I want, like watching the file copy / move status changes, and these new wireless updates, but the one thing I dont want on my desktop is metro! give me my start menu back! the entire time I used it in the dev preview I *HATED* it it's great for tablets and touch UI's yes, but on a desktop system I just hated it

and they still have the start button black, starting to feel like this isn't going to change even in the beta, feels like they want you to see it not blend in

Old floks never like change...

yardmanflex said,

Old floks never like change...

old? uh ok...

I said I like it for tablets and touch, and hate it on the desktop...

as for never changing, I hate the OSX dock, and MS turned the taskbar into something similar, its not change, its just I don't like the implementation

neufuse said,

what about it? I can pin 50 apps on it? please... everyones on about how clean windows is getting, yet we want to clutter stuff like the taskbar with pinned apps..

So you're telling me it's easier to pin 50 apps in the old Start Menu? You can barely fit 5 apps pinned in there.

Find the desktop apps you like and pin them to taskbar, like Windows 7. The ones you don't use that much, search for them, like Windows 7. Or pin them to the Start Screen since there's more space there.

yardmanflex said,

Old floks never like change...

It's not necessarily "old folks" - I'm fifty, and go back to before there even WAS a PC industry, and don't own a smartphone, tablet or slate. Yet I absolutely enjoy Metro in a way that I've never enjoyed even the SuperBar.

Some folks are simply unwilling to change how they do things. (I was reading the "Windows 7 Taskforce" blog earlier this week and read a massive rant about the myriad separated control panels throughout Windows 7 - and absolutely got it.)

burnblue said,

So you're telling me it's easier to pin 50 apps in the old Start Menu? You can barely fit 5 apps pinned in there.

Find the desktop apps you like and pin them to taskbar, like Windows 7. The ones you don't use that much, search for them, like Windows 7. Or pin them to the Start Screen since there's more space there.

No, I am saying I am faster and more organized when apps where grouped in the programs menu... Like I said before twice now to me this concept works great on tablets, with a mouse for me it was just faster and easier the "old" way that's my opinnion, its not a "lack of will to change" I've tried it, I just found with my usage the "old" way was faster and more organized, no need to search for stuff... heck I never used the start menu to search for apps... I to this day still press Win+R to get a run box because its just faster for me to type an app name in some cases when its no an installed app, or a path I want to get to fast... you use what is the fastest for you, and the metro start isn't the fastest for me on a desktop, on a tablet it is faster yes but I am talking about a desktop

PGHammer said,

It's not necessarily "old folks" - I'm fifty, and go back to before there even WAS a PC industry, and don't own a smartphone, tablet or slate. Yet I absolutely enjoy Metro in a way that I've never enjoyed even the SuperBar.

Some folks are simply unwilling to change how they do things. (I was reading the "Windows 7 Taskforce" blog earlier this week and read a massive rant about the myriad separated control panels throughout Windows 7 - and absolutely got it.)

I'm in my 20's so to be called old feels odd, especially when some of the people calling you that are older then you are! Options are nice, not being forced into a new UI just because MS thinks its best for you... makes me shiver thinking of companies like Apple... MS use to be very customizable every revision of windows since XP has removed more customizability from the UI it seems like...

neufuse said,

I'm in my 20's so to be called old feels odd, especially when some of the people calling you that are older then you are! Options are nice, not being forced into a new UI just because MS thinks its best for you... makes me shiver thinking of companies like Apple... MS use to be very customizable every revision of windows since XP has removed more customizability from the UI it seems like...


yeah .. go to Apple, you can find more 'freedom' over that side..

neufuse said,
...

I'm sure Stardock is planning some Start page override experience.
At this point, some crafty people could look into building custom start experiences for WinRT.
Maybe we have to wait for the beta.

to be honest, there is something I really dont like about 8 and is that you wont have dual-boot. That really ****es me off. But I do like stuff like this, where the OS know what type of network you are on and how much that might cost.

ThePitt said,
to be honest, there is something I really dont like about 8 and is that you wont have dual-boot. That really ****es me off. But I do like stuff like this, where the OS know what type of network you are on and how much that might cost.

You can dual boot in Win8

ThePitt said,
to be honest, there is something I really dont like about 8 and is that you wont have dual-boot. That really ****es me off. But I do like stuff like this, where the OS know what type of network you are on and how much that might cost.

You'll have dual boot on PCs if you turn off Secure Boot. If you buy the PC from the shop it's down to the OEM to allow you to turn off Secure Boot.

The only time you won't be able to turn off Secure Boot is on ARM-based tablets.

on 1 sec? that is great ever since i switched to SSD , a bit annoying to wait for Wifi 5-10 sec

when the windows itself is ready instantly

Ci7 said,
on 1 sec? that is great ever since i switched to SSD , a bit annoying to wait for Wifi 5-10 sec

when the windows itself is ready instantly


Oh come on, even with an SSD, Windows doesn't load instantly from an "off state". You must be using Sleep mode or something. But I agree, WiFi connected in a second is awesome

TCLN Ryster said,

Oh come on, even with an SSD, Windows doesn't load instantly from an "off state". You must be using Sleep mode or something. But I agree, WiFi connected in a second is awesome

that is correct

i was referring to deep sleep (S3)

Saex_Conroy said,
will those things like detecting at&t work outside the us? for example some small country?

Why ask when you know this is NEVER the case....

htcz said,

Why ask when you know this is NEVER the case....

but that isn't microsoft's fault at all...it's up to the ISP to build the metro apps.

FalseAgent said,

but that isn't microsoft's fault at all...it's up to the ISP to build the metro apps.

I would argue that this is MS implementing some Wireless specification properly.

Granted each ISP would have to provide logos, the rest would be MS provided. I would think ISPs could override the default behavior if they so choose.

Conroy should email a link to this page to his wireless ISPs tech support.

The experience is shaping up to be great for phones and tablets, but Metro on desktop leaves me a bit concerned. However, some features (e.g. Storage Spaces) look very intriguing on the desktop side of things as well. Can't wait for the beta to try it out

Avlor said,
The experience is shaping up to be great for phones and tablets, but Metro on desktop leaves me a bit concerned. However, some features (e.g. Storage Spaces) look very intriguing on the desktop side of things as well. Can't wait for the beta to try it out

All we've seen so far is a bare shell of Metro with nothing in it, and an early alpha version at that. How about we reserve judgement until we've all seen both a final (or near-final) version, and seen what the developer community can do with it in the form of apps.

I'm still of the strong belief that if app developers do their jobs right, then most casual users (those who just play games, surf the net, chat and email) will have only the occasional need to visit the classic desktop. The new metro interface offers alot of advantages, the best of which in my opinion is the sharing contract thingy.

Even the things that I mainly use my PC for (games, music, email, watching dvd/blu-ray, the odd bit of photo touching up and sharing, etc) I could quite easily see working well in Metro once the right apps are in place. And for the things I do less often, like web coding and more in-depth graphics stuff, I am more than happy to drop to the classic desktop at the touch of a button. But that's just me

Avlor said,
The experience is shaping up to be great for phones and tablets, but Metro on desktop leaves me a bit concerned. However, some features (e.g. Storage Spaces) look very intriguing on the desktop side of things as well. Can't wait for the beta to try it out

Isn't Storage Spaces for Windows Server 8?

Avlor said,
The experience is shaping up to be great for phones and tablets, but Metro on desktop leaves me a bit concerned. However, some features (e.g. Storage Spaces) look very intriguing on the desktop side of things as well. Can't wait for the beta to try it out

The wireless experience is fantastic *period* - it's not unique to tablets, slates, or even Metro. If you are in a subdivision that has lots of wireless routers, Windows 8 absolutely pounds Windows 7 into the turf in terms of wireless-router connectivity *and* throughput. It's another of those *little things* that Microsoft snuck into the underpinnings of Windows 8 (along with the much-improved Task Manager and completely-rewritten Disk Optimizer/Disk Defragmenter).

burnblue said,

That's incorrect. You're thinking of the ReFS file system.

ReFS and Storage Spaces are 2 independent features that complement each other when used together.

ReFS is confirmed for Server only
Storage Spaces was being discussed for Client and Server but we will know for sure when it comes out.