The single biggest change under the hood in Windows 10 is a new Wireless Driver Interface (WDI) driver model. This feature allows for a universal WLAN driver package that supports native functionality in both desktop and mobile versions of Windows 10.
One benefit of the WDI driver model is that cellular and Wi-Fi connections can be managed using the same networking stack. It also offers greater reliability, with the capability to recover quickly when a device hangs for firmware-related reasons. The new driver model also supports MAC address randomization to increase security and privacy.
There are also enhancements for Bluetooth devices, both classic and low-energy (LE), with improved audio through support for wideband speech and the aptX audio codec. The latter provides audio quality equivalent to a wired connection over Bluetooth. And on devices that require higher security it’s possible to use management software to force Simple Secure Pairing (SSP). That option limits the class of Bluetooth devices that can connect to a device (keyboards and mice only, for example) to reduce the attack surface.
Three emerging wireless standards are supported with features that were introduced in Windows 8.1 and are enhanced for Windows 10:
- Near field communication (NFC) Windows 8.1 introduced tap-to-pair printing support, which allows laptops and mobile devices that include NFC support to connect to an NFC-enabled enterprise printer with a simple tap. Existing printers can be NFC enabled with NFC tags. Windows 10 Mobile adds the infrastructure that can turn a mobile device into a virtual credit card, supporting Host Card Emulation alongside the existing support of Universal Integrated Circuit Card (UICC) Secure Elements. That combination makes tap-to-pay systems possible on Windows 10 Mobile devices.
- Wi-Fi Direct This is a relatively new standard that allows devices to connect to one another over a wireless network in peer-to-peer fashion, without requiring an access point. New API support in Windows 10 means that applications can discover, pair with, and connect to devices automatically, without requiring user intervention. The same technology also can be used on enterprise networks to allow easy and secure connections to printers without requiring additional drivers or software.
- Miracast wireless display Miracast is another standard that uses Wi-Fi Direct to stream audio and video from a device to a Miracast-enabled display or projector. Miracast support is built into all Windows 10 devices, allowing users to pair a Windows 10 tablet or laptop to a conference room projector with Miracast, and then project a presentation without wires or dongles.
Microsoft’s Wireless Display Adapter, for example, plugs into the HDMI input on a large television or other display and requires no setup.
Many of these connections can be made with a tap of the Media Connect button, at the bottom of the
Action Center beneath any waiting notifications. Figure 7-1 shows Windows 10 ready to connect to a Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter, a Bluetooth-enabled audio headset (previously paired with this device), and a Bluetooth-equipped PC