Windows 8 : Configuring networking (part 1) - What’s new in networking in Windows 8

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What’s new in networking in Windows 8

Windows 8 includes a number of new features and enhancements designed to streamline and improve the networking capabilities of the product. This section covers the following:

  • Enhancements in Server Message Block (SMB) version 3

  • Viewing networking in Windows 8

  • Controlling metered connections

Enhancements in SMB 3

As a desktop administrator, Server Message Block (SMB) version 3 might not be at the top of your Windows 8 to-learn list. However, as you examine the details of this protocol, you will find a lot of useful information.

SMB is a file-sharing protocol and the method by which computers running Windows communicate with one another. With the release of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, organizations can begin to use SMB 3, which provides a number of benefits over earlier versions, including:

  • New security features SMB 3 includes new encryption capabilities to ensure that data is not intercepted while in transit between servers and workstations. In addition, SMB 3 uses new signing algorithms to protect data further in transit.

  • New performance capabilities SMB 3 includes a number of performance enhancements.

  • New availability features SMB 3 has the potential to make systems more highly available than was possible with earlier versions of the protocol due to new capabilities that include SMB Transparent Failover, which enables a system to fail over quietly to a different storage path, and SMB Multichannel, which enables a system to communicate with storage by using multiple discrete channels.

  • New management features SMB now includes its own full set of Windows PowerShell cmdlets, enabling administrators to script storage-based tasks. SMB 3 adds new performance counters, enabling administrators to watch storage traffic more closely. In addition, SMB 3 writes more events to the Windows event log, making it easier for administrators to take troubleshooting steps when problems arise.

You don’t need to do anything to enable SMB 3. When your Windows 8–based computer communicates with other systems on the network, the latest possible version of SMB is automatically negotiated between the two systems. Table 1 shows you which SMB version will be used.

Table 1. SMB versions between different versions of Windows

Client/Server OS

Windows 8, Windows Server 2012

Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008

Previous versions of Windows

Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012

SMB 3.0

SMB 2.1

SMB 2.0

SMB 1.0

Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2

SMB 2.1

SMB 2.1

SMB 2.0

SMB 1.0

Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008

SMB 2.0

SMB 2.0

SMB 2.0

SMB 1.0

Previous versions of Windows

SMB 1.0

SMB 1.0

SMB 1.0

SMB 1.0

With each release of a new version of SMB, desktop administrators have had to troubleshoot issues related to communications between versions. By knowing where to start troubleshooting communications problems, you’re better able to craft solutions.


Although learning about SMB 3 might seem like an esoteric exercise except when you need to troubleshoot connections to servers, don’t dismiss this as an unimportant technology. Your Windows Server 2012 administrator counterparts are looking at ways SMB 3 can supplant competing protocols and drastically simplify the IT landscape.

Viewing network connections

With a new interface comes a new way to interact with many parts of the operating system. The Windows 8 interface includes a new way to interact with some networking settings. However, Windows 8 also retains the earlier Network and Sharing Center. For Windows 7 administrators who are making their way to Windows 8, this will provide some comfort while learning the new Windows 8 methods for managing networks and network devices.

To view connected networks in Windows 8, from the desktop, open the Settings charm and then tap or click Network. You will receive network information similar to that shown in Figure 1. The computer shown in this figure is connected to a wired network, and three Wi-Fi networks are available. Note that you can enable or disable Airplane mode from this screen. Airplane mode shuts down the computer’s networking features so that the device can be used while in flight and adhere to U.S. Federal Aviation Administration requirements.

Windows 8, seeing one wired and three wireless connections

Figure 1. Windows 8, seeing one wired and three wireless connections

Controlling metered connections

Metered connections to the Internet are becoming ubiquitous, particularly as the use of mobile devices increases. Metered connections are connections to the Internet that are based on usage. Most people have their home Internet connection provided for a flat monthly fee. Cellular communications companies also provide Internet services, but most of them have stopped providing unlimited data connections and now provide a monthly data transfer allotment after which the user is charged. Moreover, as people roam the world and leave the confines of their local cellular service provider, providers are beginning to charge roaming fees that can quickly add up to large monthly bills.

As companies provide workers with mobile devices, such as Windows 8–based tablets or laptops, the potential for large communications charges increases significantly. To help users keep costs under control, Windows 8, by default, blocks downloads of apps over what could be expensive metered connections. Apps will not be downloaded and installed until the device is connected to an unmetered network. However, you can change this behavior. To do so, complete the following steps:

  1. From the desktop, open the Settings charm.

  2. Scroll to the bottom of the Settings taskbar and tap or click Change PC Settings.

  3. On the PC Settings page, choose the Devices option.

  4. At the bottom of the list of devices in the work area is the Download Over Metered Connections option shown in Figure 2. Move the slider to the right to allow Windows 8 to download files over metered connections.

Configuring Windows 8 to allow or prevent downloads over metered connections

Figure 2. Configuring Windows 8 to allow or prevent downloads over metered connections

  •  Managing Windows 8 native applications (part 4) - Sideloading apps in Windows 8,Inventorying and removing apps
  •  Managing Windows 8 native applications (part 3) - Controlling applications by using AppLocker
  •  Managing Windows 8 native applications (part 2) - Disabling and controlling access to the Windows Store app , Managing access to hardware and installed applications
  •  Managing Windows 8 native applications (part 1) - Installing, updating, and uninstalling Windows 8 native applications, Reinstalling apps that have been removed
  •  Windows 8 : Managing traditional desktop applications (part 2) - Controlling program settings for traditional applications
  •  Windows 8 : Managing traditional desktop applications (part 1) - Using Windows Installer in Windows 8, Running Windows Installer packages and MSIExec
  •  Windows Server 2008 R2 : Active Directory certificate services (part 2) - Deploying Active Directory Certificate Services
  •  Windows Server 2008 R2 : Active Directory certificate services (part 1) - Planning for Active Directory Certificate Services
  •  Windows Server 2008 R2 : Administering group policy (part 2) - Creating and managing Group Policy Objects, Troubleshooting Group Policy
  •  Windows Server 2008 R2 : Administering group policy (part 1) - Overview of Group Policy
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