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Windows 8 Update: We're talking IPv6-friendly

Also: A Windows 8 hardware glut; Staples loves Windows 8; virtual support on iPads

By , Network World
June 07, 2012 01:21 PM ET

Network World - Windows 8 has a bias in favor of IPv6 but can handle IPv4 connectivity when it's the only option, something that will help the IPv6 transition for businesses and individuals.

This also fits in with Microsoft's overall commitment to IPv6 in many of its other products, although many of its services lag.

MORE: Why the Internet needs IPv6

QUIZ: Can you navigate Windows 8?

In Windows 8, the company tries to address the varying scenarios that customers will face; if their infrastructure supports only IPv4, if it supports both IPv4 and IPv6; if it tries to connect with networks that have IPv4 or both IPv4 and IPv6 or just IPv6, according to a Building Windows 8 blog post.

The way Windows 8 support works, it tests for IPv6 connectivity when it first contacts another network that advertises its ability to route IPv6. If it works, Windows 8 will use it. Rather than relying on detecting a set of IPv6 addresses alone to make that decision, the software determines whether an IPv6 connection would improve or hurt the user experience. If the network has dual IPv4/IPv6 stacks, this will help improve the performance of applications using standard Windows APIs, the blog says.

The information gathered about IPv4 and IPv6 support in other networks is cached by Windows 8 and repeats the test every 30 days. If both are functioning, IPv6 gets preference.

A major goal in designing Windows 8 IPv6 features was to do no harm in existing corporate routing environments, says Christopher Palmer, a member of Microsoft's core networking management team who wrote the blog. To accomplish that, Windows 8 has two safeguards, he says:

"If the enterprise has provided specific routing information to a particular destination, then Windows 8 will honor that preference, regardless of the connectivity determined by Windows. In enterprise environments, Windows assumes that network administrators who configure such routes specifically thought it was a good idea to use those routes.

"This change isn't implemented on networks with web proxies. In these networks, the proxy provides connectivity to the Internet; so end-to-end testing of IPv6 connectivity is not useful. Instead, Windows 8 simply opens connections to the proxy in the most efficient manner possible."

He says this ensures that Windows 8 can stay connected as the Internet transitions to IPv6, even if local networks are misconfigured to handle it.

Staples loves Windows 8

Business supply chain Staples is promoting Windows 8 via a support and upgrade package it says is worth $100.

Aimed at small businesses, the offer promises that customers who buy new Windows 7 computers before Nov. 31 and upgrade them to Windows 8 Pro when it's available get a $15 gift card to compensate for the $14.99 upgrade fee Microsoft charges. They also get online training in the operating system and phone support.

In announcing the program, Staples released results of a survey it commissioned about small businesses' feelings about Windows 8. Of those who were aware of Windows 8, 70% have upgrade plans underway. The most exciting thing about Windows 8 for 28% of them is that in combination with Windows Phone, it offers similar user experiences on phones, tablets and PCs.

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