Miracast Wireless Streaming, WiFi Direct on the Way in Windows 8.1

The ability to wirelessly stream to media devices, and print documents with ease is on its way to users of Windows 8 in the upcoming Windows 8.1 update to the operating system.

As part of the press releases the company made available during today’s IT focused TechEd North America conference, Blogging Windows has detailed even more features coming to Windows as a part of the free update that Microsoft plans to make available to users sometime this year.

Read: Microsoft Details Windows 8.1 Features

According to the post, users can also expect to be able to use NFC or near-filed-communications tags to automatically pair with and connect to devices at home or in the office. While today’s blog post only highlights the ability to pair with printers in offices, there’s no logical reason why home users couldn’t use the feature as well. Microsoft says that this functionality won’t require the purchase of new printers.

The updated Start Screen in Windows 8.1

The updated Start Screen in Windows 8.1

As part of the same demo, Microsoft also showed off a new feature that will allow users to print from devices that already have Wi-Fi direct functionality without having to download additional software and devices. Wi-Fi Direct creates a one on one connection with the device instead of having to route traffic and communications through a wireless router. Again, while Microsoft’s demo focused on printing in this case, there’s no reason that this functionality couldn’t be implemented for other users for activities like video watching, though the company didn’t announce any actual plans to do so.

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If Microsoft’s plans pan out and wireless data connections become more ubiquitous, more and more of the devices that carry Windows will have some sort of mobile internet connection, and so it seems Microsoft is preparing for this with native support of data tethering. Starting with the Windows 8.1 update, users will be able to turn their devices into “a personal Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing other devices to connect and access the internet”, according to Microsoft.

To make that feature really useful, Windows 8 will need to ship on more the devices that feature mobile internet connections. Currently the amount of tablets running the operating system that have this type of functionality is next to zero.

Finally, users who give presentations often will appreciate Windows 8.1’s native support for the Miracast streaming technology. With it, users can wirelessly display what’s on their device’s screen using other Miracast equipped projectors and such. All things considered, the technology isn’t all that different from the DLNA support that’s already included in Windows 8 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360.

Read: Microsoft Cofirms Windows 8.1 is a Free Update to Windows 8

The company also announced more business oriented features that will ship the operating system update as well. Microsoft will release a public preview of Windows 8.1 on June 26th during its BUILD conference.

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