Windows 8 Update: We're talking IPv6-friendly

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.

Windows 8 hardware glut

At the Computex 2012 conference this week, it seems it was nearly impossible to turn around without bumping into a new device sporting Windows 8, according to published reports.

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Acer showed two new tablets as did Asus, which also revealed a Windows 8 all-in-one and a hybrid laptop/tablet that can dual boot and has two screens -- one of them a touchscreen -- that can simultaneously display separate applications. Asus also put out a Windows 8 version of its Android Eee Transformer Prime.

Lenovo showed a tablet. MSI showed a "slider" ultrabook that has a screen that can lie flat as a tablet or flip up to become a notebook.

Meanwhile, during a keynote, Intel Senior Vice President Tom Kilroy said more than 20 Intel Clover Trail-based devices designed for Windows 8 were on tap from several vendors.

HTC left out in the cold on tablets

While hardware vendors bragged about their upcoming Windows 8 products, Bloomberg reported that Microsoft turned down HTC to receive early versions of Windows 8 to put on its tablets. Part of the problem was that HTC wanted to customize the home screen and Microsoft said no. Also, Microsoft was concerned that HTC doesn't have enough experience in the tablet market, the report says. But there's hope. HTC may jump into the Windows 8 device fray sometime next year.

Virtual support on iPads

Parallels, makers of Parallels Desktop software that creates virtual machines on iPads, has updated the platform to make it easier to install Windows 8. Rather than manually installing it, users will be able to install Windows 8 using Parallel's Virtual Machine Wizard, the company says.

Google threat to Windows RT?

Google has bought Quickoffice in a move that could be a threat to the ARM version of Windows 8 known as Windows RT.

Google could package Quickoffice with its Chromebooks, which would help the devices compete with Windows 8 tablets and notebooks when they come out later this year. Windows RT will come with native Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote). Full versions of Office will run on Windows 8 x86 laptops, notebooks and tablets.

So while Quickoffice isn't Office, it can edit Office-format files. With Chromebooks starting at $299, they could become a more attractive alternative to Windows 8 tablets, iPads and even the little Nook and Kindle tablets from Barnes & Noble and Amazon if they ship with Quickoffice onboard.

Or Google may be making a defensive move based on the heavily rumored Office for iPad package that The New York Times says Microsoft is working on, but hasn't decided when to launch it or how much to charge.

Privacy? What privacy?

Microsoft drew a line in the sand this week, saying it would switch on by default the do-not-track option in Internet Explorer 10, the version that comes with Windows 8.

A committee of the World Wide Web Consortium responded with a new provision in its do-not-track policy as posted by Wired that makes such a default setting fall outside its recommendations.

That means Microsoft can't say it supports the W3C's policy, but it could keep do-not-track switched on by default anyway.

Do not track is an honor system in which browsers state their preference not to be tracked and websites agree not to. If IE10 violates the W3C policy, websites could ignore the requests from IE10 browsers with the rationale that the browser is noncompliant.

No word yet on what Microsoft will do.

Tim Greene covers Microsoft for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter @Tim_Greene.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

This story, "Windows 8 Update: We're talking IPv6-friendly" was originally published by Network World.

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