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Great Post on Task Manager for Windows 8

The Building Windows 8 blog is rapidly turning into one of my favorite resources and references on what’s up with Windows 8, and this Monday morning I’m particularly taken with last Friday’s post (10/13/2011) entitled “The Windows 8 Task Manager.” If there’s one system utility on most modern major Windows versions that I use incessantly (Ctrl-Shift-Esc is programmed into my left hand at a pretty deep level, in fact) this has got to be it. So of course, I was more than mildly interested to read about what’s coming in the next iteration of this go-to utility.

More Details on the new Processes tab...

More Details on the new Processes tab...

Ryan Haveson, the group program manager for Microsoft’s “In Control of Your PC” team, is the author of this post, and he does a bang-up job of explaining what’s changing in Task Manager for Windows 8 and why slated changes have been made. If you’re as fond of this tool as I am, you’ll want to read the post in its entirety. For those who may just want the 10,000-foot recap, here it is:

  • The default views for the Applications and Processes tabs have been simplified and cleaned up, to make it easier for users to find and kill errant or unresponsive apps and processes, respectively. A “more details” button will be included on each of those views to make it easier for geeks to get more details and information from the tool (see the posting for some nice illustrative screencaps).
  • A “heat map” that represents various values with color is overlaid on all Task Manager displays. This uses color to call out anomalies or big resource consumers without having to zero in on units of measure or sorting the data to bring outliers to the top of specific columns. Column headers and specific entries light up with brighter more compelling colors to call attention to what’s up, and what’s out of whack.
  • Equal coverage for network and disk consumption on commonly used panes (you now get Disk and Network counters/reports in the processes tab without having to jump to different tabs, or over to the Resource Monitor utility). Nice catch, guys!
  • Smarter grouping of processes: entries are grouped by Application, Background processes, and Windows processes, so users have a better idea about what’s safe to kill, and what needs to be left alone. Applications also provide additional detail about parent and child processes. Thus, for example, you can look at Outlook.exe as a single entry by default, yet expand the hierarchy to see sub-processes or tasks inside the Outlook umbrella if you like.
  • More process info available as a right-click option. I started using a uniblue look-up tool that plugged into Task Manager a couple of years ago because it made it easy for me to search for more information about strange, mysterious, or suspect processes online. I can’t remember why I quit using it, but it was handy to have around. With Windows 8, users can right-click on a process name in Task Manager, and elect a “Search the Web” menu option to do this without having to augment Task Manager itself any more. Bravo!
  • And finally, MS does the homework for you with svchost.exe process entries, and ties them back to specific service relationships so that you can see which Windows services are using any particular instance of this DLL aggregating Windows infrastructure service. Bravo again!!

I’m actually looking forward to putting this new facility through its paces, as soon as I get my Windows 8 test machine up and running (probably, next week, if recent busy-busy-busy work rhythms keep clanging as they have been lately).

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