Windows 8 Feature: Connected Standby

With all the buzz about Windows 8 you’re probably thinking what does it really do for me over what I currently have in both Windows XP and Windows 7? I’ve asked myself that same question considering most of my customers’ needs and requirements. Of all the new features to the look and feel of Windows 8 that my college Amber has in her blog post here, one of the most significant features is the huge power consumption advantages of this new operating system when built on devices that it can leverage.

This is achieved using a new “sleep” state called Connected Standby. Much like how your mobile phone maintains connectivity to the cellular network while the screen is off, Windows 8 connected standby devices will take this a step further. With advances in low power consumption components and the application hooks into those components, Windows 8 can maintain what is likened to a Logical Power Off state.

All the tiles in the metro interface that maintain up to date information will continue to maintain connectivity to its source while in a connected standby state. Say for example I maintain a tile for the local weather, or news in Windows 8, that same type application called a widget in Windows 7 would need to wait for the machine to return from standby mode, connect to all network resources, and then download the latest data. All this activity is cause for slow boot and return from standby times. Windows 8 however never really goes into a full standby; it maintains these applications with little consumption of power and only downloads the amount of information to maintain a consistent user experience with their data.

We all can agree that the display is in most cases the most power hungry part of any mobile device, including laptops, so having the capability to maintain network connectivity while in a logical powered down state would prove extremely efficient. The chart below shows a comparison of Windows 7 power usage while in an idle state with the screen off and Windows 8 power consumption while in connected standby state. You’ll notice the very short bursts of power consumption while the device reaches out to its network sources to update the live information on the device, such as emails, tasks, contacts, weather data, Stock updates or that most recent business intelligence report that helps guide your daily decision making for your business. Microsoft calls this data collection while in standby mode “Idle Hygiene”.Power

Connected Standby has been modeled as the system is “on” with the screen off. All this is done with some very frank dependencies on specific hardware components. These components all have to include enhanced device power management, from the processor, to the memory stack, all the way through to the wireless/network devices. This interface is controlled by a new kernel level component called the power manager miniport (PEP). This allows application developers to code their software without the need to care about power management and consider the system state as always on, thus offloading the power management coupling to the PEP and the subsequent hardware components.

The initial list of Metro Style apps that use the background features while running in the Connected Standby mode are:

  • Playing music
  • Downloading a file from or uploading it to a website
  • Keeping live tiles alive with fresh content
  • Printing
  • Receiving a VoIP call
  • Receiving an instant message
  • Receiving an email
  • Sharing content (like uploading photos to Facebook)
  • Synchronizing content with a tethered device (like syncing photos)

As more Metro Style apps are built and adopted by the market, this list will likely grow and I’m excited to think of all the possibilities yet to come! Less plugging in, More Data!

2 comments on “Windows 8 Feature: Connected Standby

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