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Deploying IPv6 : IPv6 Enhancements in Windows Vista

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The TCP/IP networking stack in the previous Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 platforms had a dual stack architecture that used separate transport and framing layers for IPv4 and IPv6 based on separate drivers: Tcpip.sys and Tcpip6.sys. Only the transport and framing layers for IPv4 were installed by default, and adding support for IPv6 involved installing an additional IPv6 protocol component through the Network Connections folder.

By contrast, in Windows Vista and Windows Server Code Name “Longhorn” the TCP/IP stack has been completely redesigned and now uses a dual IP layer architecture in which both IPv4 and IPv6 share a common transport and framing layer. In addition, IPv6 is installed and enabled by default in these new platforms to provide out-of-the-box support for new features such as the Windows Meeting Space application, which uses only IPv6. Finally, the new a dual IP layer architecture means that all of the performance enhancements of the Next Generation TCP/IP stack that apply to IPv4 also apply to IPv6. These performance enhancements include Compound TCP, Receive Window Auto-Tuning, and other enhancements that can dramatically improve performance in high-latency, high-delay, and high-loss networking environments.


For more information about the performance enhancements in the Next Generation TCP/IP stack.

Summary of IPv6 Enhancements in Windows Vista

The following list summarizes the changes to IPv6 support in Windows Vista compared with previous Microsoft Windows platforms:

  • Dual IP layer architecture A new TCP/IP stack architecture that uses the same transport and framing layers for both IPv4 and IPv6.

  • Enabled by default Both IPv4 and IPv6 are installed and enabled by default, with the stack giving preference to IPv6 when appropriate without impairing the performance of IPv4 communications on the network. For example, if a DNS name query returns both an IPv4 and IPv6 address for a host, the client will try to use IPv6 first for communicating with the host. This preference also results in better network performance for IPv6-enabled applications.

  • User interface configuration support In addition to being able to configure IPv6 settings from the command line using the netsh interface ipv6 command context, you can also configure them in Windows Vista using the user interface.

  • Full IPsec support IPv6 support in previous versions of Microsoft Windows offered only limited support for IPsec protection of network traffic. In Windows Vista, however, IPsec support for IPv6 is the same as for IPv4, and you can configure IPsec connection security rules for IPv6 the same as for IPv4, using the Windows Firewall With Advanced Security console.

  • LLMNR support Windows Vista’s implementation of IPv6 supports Link-Local Multicast Name Resolution (LLMNR), a mechanism that enables IPv6 nodes on a single subnet to resolve each other’s names in the absence of a DNS server. LLMNR works by having nodes send multicast DNS name queries instead of unicast queries. Windows Vista computers listen by default for multicast LLMNR traffic, which eliminates the need to perform local subnet name resolution using NetBIOS over TCP/IP when no DNS server is available. LLMNR is currently on track for RFC status.

  • MLDv2 support Windows Vista’s implementation of IPv6 supports Multicast Listener Discovery (MLD) version 2 (MLDv2), a mechanism described in RFC 3810 that enables IPv6 hosts to register interest in source-specific multicast traffic with local multicast routers by specifying an include list (to indicate specific source addresses of interest) or an exclude list (to exclude unwanted source addresses).

  • DHCPv6 support Windows Vista’s DHCP Client service supports Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol for IPv6 (DHCPv6) as defined in RFCs 3736 and 4361. This means that Windows Vista computers can perform both stateful and stateless DHCPv6 configuration on a native IPv6 network.

  • IPV6CP support Windows Vista’s built-in remote access client component supports IPv6 Control Protocol (IPV6CP) (RFC 2472) to configure IPv6 nodes on a Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) link. This means that native IPv6 traffic can be sent over PPP-based network connections such as dial-up connections or broadband PPP over Ethernet (PPPoE) connections to an Internet Service Provider (ISP). IPV6CP also supports Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)–based Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections.

  • Random Interface IDs By default, Windows Vista generates random interface IDs for non-temporary autoconfigured IPv6 addresses, including both public addresses (global addresses registered in DNS) and link-local addresses.

  • Literal IPv6 addresses in URLs Windows Vista supports RFC 2732–compliant literal IPv6 addresses in URLs by using the new WinINet API support in Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0. This can be a useful feature for troubleshooting Internet connectivity with IPv6-enabled Web servers.

  • New Teredo Behavior The Teredo client in Windows Vista remains dormant (inactive) until it spins up (is activated by) an IPv6-enabled application that tries to use Teredo. In Windows Vista, three things can bring up Teredo: an application trying to communicate using a Teredo address (the outbound instantiated scenario); a listening application that has the Edge Traversal rule enabled in Windows Firewall (any IPv6-enabled applications that need to use Teredo can easily do so by setting the Edge Traversal flag using the Windows Firewall APIs); and the NotifyStableUnicastIpAddressTable IP Helper API.

How It Works: Teredo Behavior in Windows Vista

Teredo is default-enabled but inactive in both workgroup and domain scenarios. Teredo becomes active in two main scenarios:

  • An application tries to communicate with a Teredo address (for example, by using a URL with a Teredo address in a Web browser). This is outbound-initiated traffic, and Teredo will go dormant again after 60 minutes of inactivity. The host firewall will allow only incoming Teredo traffic corresponding to the specific outbound request, ensuring that system security isn’t compromised. This is really no different than how any outbound-initiated traffic works with the host firewall with IPv4. (In other words, all outbound traffic is allowed by default, and a state table allows responses that match the outgoing requests.)

  • An application or service is authorized to use Teredo with the advanced Windows Firewall Edge Traversal flag. If an application has the Edge Traversal option, it is allowed to receive any incoming traffic over Teredo from any source (such as unsolicited traffic). Windows Meeting Space and Remote Assistance automatically set this flag for themselves, but users can do it manually for other Vista services if they would like, such as with a Web service.

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