You shouldn't need to install any software at all to make most mobile broadband hardware work and the connection shows up in the Settings charm logo, alongside available Wi-Fi networks so you don't have to run a separate application to get online.
That means the mobile operators can concentrate on making apps that show you how much data you've used and how much that's costing (as well as adding features to give you an address book on the SIM, use the phone network to get your GPS location more quickly or give you access to their Wi-Fi hotspot service without needing to type in an extra password). You can see how much of your data allowance you've used and check the App History tab in Task Manager so see which apps have used the most data bandwidth to help make your mobile data allowance last longer.
To help reduce your data usage Windows 8 allows you to limit the mobile broadband connection on a user-basis. Unlike a Wi-Fi connection, not everything on your PC can use your mobile broadband connection, regardless of it's built into the PC or plugged in as a dongle. For example If you use a mobile hotspot like a MiFi, it can tell Windows 8 it's a metered mobile connection. This can either be done automatically, which requires the manufacturer to set that up or you can mark any connection as metered yourself just by right-clicking on it.
Metered connections really come in to their own when you use your phone to get your notebook online when you travel. By selecting the right preferences you can download email and send files using your phone's connection without worrying that Windows Update or Defender will start a download and give you a huge bill. By default, device drivers won't download and account settings won't sync on metered connections, but you can change those options from PC Settings.
Whether you're a small business owner paying for mobile broadband to keep key workers connected while they travel or an employee who has to convince the boss to let you put the cost of connecting on expenses, knowing that you have more control over your mobile broadband bill is a big help.
Run old apps and other operating systems
Windows XP Mode in Windows 7 was a good stopgap for running older applications that even the various compatibility modes couldn't fix, but it was only ever a stopgap.
Windows 8 gets the full Hyper-V hypervisor from Windows Server, which is much more powerful (as long as you have a 64-bit CPU with Second Level Address Translation, SLAT, which most recent processors like Core i3, i5, i7 and AMD's Barcelona do). Not only can you run Windows XP if you need to (and Microsoft includes preconfigured virtual machines (VMs) containing old versions of Internet Explorer that are ready to load in Hyper-V), you can also run Windows Server or many other operating systems – 32-bit or 64-bit versions).
This isn't just a basic VM player; you get the full features of Hyper-V, so you can take snapshots of running virtual machines, experiment with settings and then go back in time. Live Storage Move lets you switch the storage a VM is using – from your PC to a USB stick, or to a file share – without having to stop the VM first.
Additionally if you're working on something in a VM and you want to take it out of the office to run on a different PC, just copy it onto a USB stick, pause it and restart it on the new machine. And unlike Windows Server, you can still hibernate or sleep a PC running Hyper-V (the virtual machines are automatically suspended and resumed when the PC wakes). Not every business will need Hyper-V but if you do, it gives you a huge amount of flexibility.
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Mary (Twitter, Google+, website) started her career at Future Publishing, saw the AOL meltdown first hand the first time around when she ran the AOL UK computing channel, and she's been a freelance tech writer for over a decade. She's used every version of Windows and Office released, and every smartphone too, but she's still looking for the perfect tablet. Yes, she really does have USB earrings.