Windows 8 : Working with location-based settings and connection methods

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Connecting to devices by using Wi-Fi Direct

Computers and mobile devices have shared a connection over Bluetooth for some time, enabling wireless headsets to pair with smart phones and computers and enabling the use of wireless mice for traveling users. Windows 8 supports Bluetooth and continues to allow these types of connections. In addition, it supports a new standard of communication between devices called Wi-Fi Direct, which creates a peer-to-peer network between devices within a certain range.

Securing Wi-Fi to a device

The specification for Wi-Fi Direct lists the security as WPA-2, which uses AES 256-bit security. For most peer-to-peer networks on which Wi-Fi Direct will be used—between computer and mouse, computer and headset, and hardware-to-computer communication in general—WPA2 should be acceptably secure.

How does Windows 8 use Wi-Fi Direct?

Windows 8 has Wi-Fi Direct built in. When another device that supports Wi-Fi Direct, such as a television, appears within range, the device can be added to Windows in the same way a Bluetooth keyboard or USB scanner is added. There are no special considerations for Wi-Fi Direct (other than devices using the technology). When the device is added to Windows, in the case of the television, media on the Windows 8–based computer or device can be sent directly to the television for output.

Using airplane mode and location-based services in Windows 8

Mobile phones have a feature called airplane mode. The concept is that all the radios in the device are switched off, but the rest of the device remains on and can be used. Because the Internet is available almost anywhere and there are mobile hotspots in a number of smart phones today, airplane mode makes even more sense in Windows 8. Turning off Wi-Fi on a computer is fairly straightforward; however, note that you also disable Bluetooth, cellular, or GPS radios that might exist within the device you are carrying.

Turning on airplane mode handles all these radios at once. To enable or disable airplane mode in Windows 8, complete the following steps:

  1. Select the Settings charm.

  2. Select PC Settings.

  3. Select Wireless in the navigation pane.

  4. Toggle the Airplane Mode selector to Off to disable airplane mode or to On to enable it.

In addition to airplane mode, Windows 8 supports location-based services. This enables your applications to use your location, much the same way a smart phone might. With the location settings turned on, the experience presented in a particular application might change, depending on the location of the device.

The Weather app is a good example of one that can use location-based services. When these services are enabled for Windows and then for the Weather app, the application attempts to change the weather information displayed based on the location of the device. This can be handy for many mobile devices and applications. To configure location settings in Windows 8, complete the following steps:

  1. Select the Settings charm.

  2. Select PC Settings.

  3. Select Privacy.

  4. Toggle the Let Apps Use My Location setting on or off.

In addition to general configuration settings through the Windows GUI, location-based services can be configured in Group Policy. In the Group Policy console, expand the Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Location and Sensors path. The policy settings for Windows Location Provider include:

  • Turn Off Windows Location Provider

  • Turn Off Location Scripting

  • Turn Off Location

  • Turn Off Sensors

Disabling location and sensors data prevents applications on a computer or other device from accessing these resources.



Applications can have their own location settings, which means that location can also be turned off within the app. For an application to use location settings, the feature must be enabled in Windows. Check the settings panel for the app you are configuring by opening the app and choosing the Settings charm. Select Permissions to allow (or disallow) the application to use location-based services.

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