Win8 mobile broadband improvements explained


— 9:48 AM on January 24, 2012

With its Metro interface, Windows 8 will have more than a few things in common with Windows Phone 7. Judging by the latest update on the Building Windows 8 blog, Microsoft has also borrowed some behavior from smartphone operating systems to make sure Win8's mobile broadband support is up to snuff.

Just like a smartphone OS, Windows 8's control panel will present users with simple on-off switches for Wi-Fi, mobile broadband, and an "airplane mode" that disables both. The OS will automatically switch to preferred Wi-Fi networks when you come near them, disconnecting mobile broadband and powering down the controller, which will, among other things, purportedly help save battery life. Also, to keep things simple and consistent, Windows 8 will have an "in-box mobile broadband class driver" that should remove the need to install third-party drivers or software from carriers.

Microsoft has made an effort both to limit and to be transparent about mobile broadband data usage, as well. Your data use statistics will be displayed prominently, Windows Update will "defer the background download of all updates" (with the exception of highly critical security updates to fix a "a worm-like vulnerability"), and the operating system will let operators warn you when you're close to hitting your data cap.

We're not going to see Windows 8 on phones, of course, but I can see all of these enhancements coming in quite handy—like, say, for future Windows 8 tablets with built-in 3G or 4G. A lot of folks who use mobile broadband with their laptops should appreciate the changes, too.

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