I just purchased an S4 Mini, my first android phone. I was wondering - is there a way to send/receive messages on my Windows 8 desktop when my phone is connected to my machine?
You might wish to run a search on Google Play. One good choice will be Airdroid, which gives you a full remote maintenance suite. And of course you can send/receive SMS using any browser you like.
You can try SMS Text Messaging ↔PC Texting.
★ Send & Receive SMS on your computer ot tablet. ★ Instant Notifications on computer/tablet when SMS hits phone.
Or how about Kies Air? You can connect to your pc using Wi-Fi and there are more functionalities than just texting. There is no need for a cable. This could be a plus or a min.
Without having to connect any cables, within a browser you can use diverse function such as multimedia transfer, music listening, PIMS management, text message, file search, and so on.
For a Windows 8 PC, you should try mysms. It has an native Windows 8 client
You can send/reveive texts on your Windows 8 PC via your mobile operator. Your PC and your phone will stay in sync.
I've been using Mighty Text for about 6 months now. Works really well and has enough other features too.