In the second part of my Windows 8 wireless two part series, I will cover enterprise administration of wireless networks.

Joseph Moody

Joseph Moody is a network admin for a public school system and helps manage 5,500 PCs. He is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) in Cloud and Datacenter Management and blogs at DeployHappiness.com.

From the Modern user interface to vastly improved connection speed, Windows 8 is the always on/always connected OS. With great features, one must have great management.

Windows 8 wireless settings and standard users ^

First, the Modern network panel allows for standard users to configure nearly every setting that would be needed for a remote worker. Standard users can join, forget, and modify wireless networks. Right clicking on existing connected networks even allows for standard users to modify the network precedence established by prior action. The network adapter continues to scan for other available networks even when connected to this less desirable network profile.

Windows 8 Wireless Network Properties

Windows 8 Wireless Network Properties

Windows 8 Airplane Mode ^

As in Windows 7, standard users can still perform Network Diagnostics, release/renew an adapter’s IP address, and flush the DNS Resolver cache. However standard users could not disable/enable physical adapters. With the introduction of Airplane Mode, standard users can disable all wireless communication without needing to actually disable adapters.

Windows 8 Airplane Mode

Windows 8 Airplane Mode

Windows 8 Connection Manager ^

While these improvements will certainly make life easier for the mobile user, the additional management comes in the form of a host of new Group Policy settings. The two common questions I consistently see are:

How can I prevent users from using a hotspot when connected to our domain?

And

How can I have Windows use only the wired network when connected to a wireless network?

Both of these things can now be easily done with Group Policy! Under Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Network, one can now manage the Windows Connection Manager and set the network cost for WLAN and WWAN connections.

 Windows 8 Connection Manager

Windows 8 Connection Manager - Group Policy

Within the Windows Connection Manager folder, we have the following two settings:

  • Prohibit connection to non-domain networks when connected to domain authenticated networks
  • Minimize the number of simultaneous connections to the Internet or a Windows Domain

Because these settings are administrative templates, we do not have to worry about settings being left of the machine if our policies ever need to change.

Windows 8 wireless connection cost ^

Mobile networks can get expensive. With Windows 8, different network types can be assigned different cost metrics. When this is configured, mobile devices will use the most efficient network type for your organization. A welcomed inclusion is the ability to disable mobile broadband when the client moves to a roaming network. By default, users can connect to roaming networks. If this setting is enabled, clients are prevented from automatic and manual connections to a roaming network.

Prohibit connection to roaming Mobile Broadband networks

Prohibit connection to roaming Mobile Broadband networks

Specific cost values can be set for WLAN and WWAN connections. Connection cost can be set to these values:

  • Unrestricted
  • Fixed
  • Variable

Windows 8 wireless connection cost

Windows 8 wireless connection cost

Because Windows 8 supports 3G and 4G networks, one can configure individual cost values for the different connections types.

Windows 8 WWAN Media Cost

WWAN Media Cost

The ability to more granularly manage network selection is a very welcomed addition to Windows 8. Being able to prevent in-house hotspots on domain machines is sure to please the security side of IT and the ability to manage network cost will make Finance quite happy as well. Throw in the fact that savvy mobile users can resolve more of their own issues and we have a great package!

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2 Comments
  1. Junaid Rahman 7 years ago

    Hello,

    Thank you for this information. I am looking for Group Policy Templates which will allow for the Airplane Mode feature to be made unavailable. Meaning, users cannot enable or disable Airplane Mode.

    Is there any way to do this?

    I have a classroom environment, which is managed by NetSupport Classroom Manager. This software allows a teacher to control student laptops/tablets. Includes device lock, internet access control and application launch control.

    The student devices have an agent installed, which responds to the teacher console. Unfortunately, if the network connection is dropped by using Airplane Mode, the agent gives full control back to the student. Allowing students to launch games/applications or browse the internet during class.

    Thanks for your help,

    Junaid

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  2. Author
    Joseph Moody 7 years ago

    Hi Junaid,

    We use NetSupport in our environment and love it! I couldn't find an airplane mode but I can help you with NetSupport.

    Each client has a setting in the client32.ini. You can set them to automatically reattach to the control when it falls out of management. You can then deploy that setting with Group Policy Preferences.

    Thanks,
    Joseph

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