Windows 8 Prefers Native IPv6 Connectivity Over IPv4; Compatibility Center & User Guide; Mouse without Borders; RSAT for Windows 8 & Windows Server 2012 for Release Preview Now Available!

As part of the IPv4 to IPv6 transition, Microsoft is ensuring that Windows 8 provides the most resilient connectivity to the Internet while providing IPv6-ready products and services. The Redmond comapny today confirmed that Windows 8 is connected and ready to use IPv6. "We have engineered Windows 8 to keep you (and your apps) reliably […]

As part of the IPv4 to IPv6 transition, Microsoft is ensuring that Windows 8 provides the most resilient connectivity to the Internet while providing IPv6-ready products and services. The Redmond comapny today confirmed that Windows 8 is connected and ready to use IPv6. "We have engineered Windows 8 to keep you (and your apps) reliably connected as this dramatic transition takes place," posted Christopher Palmer, core networking program management team.

According to Microsoft, the Windows 8 offer support for using only IPv6, while keeping support for IPv4 as well. In fact, the platform can run easily either on only one of them, or on both of them at the same time.

"Windows 8 is designed to ensure connectivity across all types of network configurations. In Windows 8, you can launch DNS look-ups using the Resolve-DNSname cmdlets in Windows PowerShell. Open up PowerShell and run the below command, and you will see both IPv6 and IPv4 records returned. Only websites that support IPv6 will have IPv6 records," writes Palmer.

Windows 8 Release Preview Support Dual-stack Network IPv4 over IPv4

"The most immediate benefit of IPv6 is that it provides more than 3×1038 IP addresses, enough for every person to have billions of addresses all to themselves, or enough to give every star in the universe a unique address. This will allow the Internet to grow and evolve. IPv6 also provides for many security and performance improvements, like built-in support for IPsec. (What happened to IPv5, you ask? Bing can help you find out why it's being "skipped.")"

Upgrading the entire Internet to IPv6 isn't something that can be done instantly. Currently, around 1% of devices can connect to the Internet using only IPv6. There will be a transition period to the new technology, and Windows 8 will offer support for three scenarios as well:

  • IPv4-only networks. This is probably what you have today, as most Internet Service Providers have only just started rolling out IPv6 support. Many devices that connect to the Internet might only support IPv4 as well.
  • IPv4 and IPv6 networks (dual-stack). This means your Internet Service Provider is configuring your PC with both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. This model is common in cable and dial-up networks that are transitioning.
  • IPv6-only networks. This means your Internet Service Provider is configuring your device with only IPv6 addresses. Because many websites are still only on the IPv4 Internet, ISPs must use a translation device to allow access from your IPv6 network to the IPv4 Internet. This device is called a NAT64.

"During the transition period, dual-stack networks will be the common deployment model. On a dual-stack network, devices will be configured with both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses[…]At the same time, it's also a priority for us to help the IPv6 transition move ahead. To this end, Windows prefers native IPv6 connectivity over IPv4 connectivity, if both connection modes are available," Palmer said.

"In order for a device to truly support dual-stack networks, apps must not only be able to send traffic with IPv4 and IPv6, but the OS must be smart enough to know which protocol is appropriate for the task at hand. This functionality is called address sorting, and is an area that we have enhanced in Windows 8. When Windows tries to connect to a dual-stack website, Windows sorts through its own and the website's IP addresses to decide which pair it should use to make the connection. (For standards buffs, address sorting is standardized in RFC 3484.)"

Below is a diagram showing how Windows uses address sorting:

Windows 8 IPv6 and IPv 4 dual-stack networks diagram showing IP adress sorting

He concludes the post saying, "We are working with CDNs to extend IPv6 support beyond Windows 8. Once that work is complete, even Windows 7 and Windows Vista will automatically use IPv6, where it is available, for connecting to Windows Update."

Does your product work with Windows 8? The easiest way to check to see if your favourite apps and devices are compatible with Windows 8, is to check theCompatibility Center for Windows 8 Release Preview….

"Browse or search our catalogue to find out whether your favourite apps and devices are compatible with Windows 8"

Compatibility Center for Windows 8 Release Preview

Microsoft has also published a Windows 8 Release Preview User Guide, "Windows 8 Release Preview arrives with the new Metro UI interface dominating the entire user experience on the next-gen platform from the Redmond company, and features a great deal of optimizations for use on touchscreen devices.

No matter what you want to do, you can get it done quickly in Windows 8. Whether you're completing a project, playing a game, or reading a book, with Windows 8, you can use touch, mouse, and keyboard together--seamlessly--to do what you want, the way you want," Microsoft notes.

Those who are interested, can download the Guide using this link (PDF).

Read-only version is embedded below:

Also, available for download is the Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 8 Release Preview that includes Server Manager, Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-ins, consoles, Windows PowerShell cmdlets and providers, and command-line tools for managing roles and features that run on Windows Server 2012.

In limited cases, the tools can be used to manage roles and features that are running on Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2008. Some of the tools work for managing roles and features on Windows Server 2003.

Get the RSAT for Windows 8 RP from the Microsoft Download Center.

Microsoft also released "Mouse Without Borders," a Microsoft Garage project by Truong Do. Garage projects are side projects that Microsoft employees like Truong build for fun on their nights and weekends.

"Mouse Without Borders was designed for people who use many computers in the same room. For example, a laptop or tablet that you take to meetings might sit right alongside the desktop PC in your office," explains Microsoft.

Download Microsoft Garage Mouse without Borders for Windows 8 here.