Near Field Communication (NFC) is a form of contactless communication between devices, almost like a small sphere Wi-Fi network. When I think about an NFC communications sphere, Sue Richards' (Invisible Woman with the Fantastic Four) force field immediately comes to mind because I'm a comic book geek. Imagine seeing the mobile phone in your buddy's hand in a different light spectrum and watching an orb of green light dance around like in an X-Files episode. Or, maybe a better example is the Plasma globe, invented by Nikola Tesla that enthralls kids (and adults) in science museums.  

While NFC has been utilized most for transferring content (files, business cards) between mobile phones, there's much about NFC that has yet to be tapped. NFC is an emerging technology and there are companies working on new uses such as grocery store checkout and secure retail payment. NFC utilizes electromagnetic radio fields for communication while technologies such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi focus on radio transmissions.

Tap-tap-tap. Is this thing on?

Windows 8.1 introduces NFC tap-to-pair printing for the Enterprise. When a user locates an NFC-enabled printer in the office, they simply tap their device against the printer and start printing – as simple as that. Even though Windows 8.1 does also provide Wi-Fi Direct printing, NFC printing means that companies don't have to buy special Wi-Fi enabled printers. Any existing printer can be NFC-enabled by attaching a NFC tag. NFC tags are abundant and cheap. For example, you can purchase a pack of 5, programmable NFC tags from for around $10 US. 

Check it out: 5 Black NTAG203 NFC Tags From NFCGuyz.

So, for IT attempting to support the influx of personal devices for the nightmarish BYOD implementation, NFC printing in Windows 8.1 is huge. It means being able to provide direct printing from devices without having to layout too much additional cost, and another reason why Windows 8.1 is much improved for the Enterprise.

If you'd like to learn more about NFC, check out the Near Field Communication organization web site:  NFC Org


This article is part of The IT Guide to Windows 8.1, a continuing series to make the case for Windows 8.1 in the organization.