Microsoft details its Windows 8 Task Manager improvements

By Tom Warren, on 13th Oct 11 7:34 pm with 51 Comments

Windows 7 vs Windows 8 Task Manager

Microsoft revealed on Thursday its methodology behind the various Task Manager improvements in Windows 8.

The software giant went about designing the new Task Manager by assessing how people use the Task Manager in existing versions of Windows. “People are spending most of their time using the first two tabs, which are pivoted around views of applications and processes,” said Ryan Haveson, the group program manager Microsoft’s In Control of Your PC team, in a blog post on Thursday. Microsoft investigated how users use the processes tab and came to the conclusion that the application tab was lacking detail. “We determined that the most common usage of the tool was to simply end or “kill” an application or a process,” explains Haveson.

The company focused on the following changes for Windows 8:

  • Optimize Task Manager for the most common scenarios
  • Use modern information design to achieve functional goals
  • Don’t remove functionality

Microsoft has now optimised the default view of Task Manager in Windows 8 with quick and easy access to end tasks. There’s no more tabs in the default view and the menu bar is no longer present. “After taking out all of the extras, you are left with a tool that is great at one thing: killing a misbehaving app,” says Haveson.

One of the new features in the Task Manager is the colorised heat map view. The processes tab now includes a heat map that represents different values of data with colors. “Our telemetry data told us that it was very common for users to go to the process tab, sort by CPU or memory utilization, and then look for applications consuming more resources than expected,” said Haveson. The new view now makes it easy to locate an application that is misbehaving and taking up a lot of resources.

The view will also light up to draw a users attention to a process if it is above a threshold. “Think of this as a warning indicator, letting you know a good place to start looking if you are experiencing performance issues,” says Haveson.

The new Task Manager can also group applications, background processes and Windows processes, making it even easier to identify each application in use on a system. Microsoft has also made it easier to identify each process with a context menu option of “Search the web”. Users can right click on a process and search the web to learn more about the process. “Task Manager was a unique opportunity for user experience designers and researchers working together with technical program managers and engineers to create a clean, organized, and efficient design,” explains Haveson. “We made it more streamlined for mainstream users, and more detailed for power users.”

  • Seth_p

    Great improvements for both power users and the dumb lol now just splash the new metro controls and it’ll look pretty.

  • Anonymous

    Microsoft applications should never ever stop responding. 3rd party software can make a system unstable, but when the platform itself is not 100% stable…

    I’m not a troll, I’m probably the biggest MS fan of my country but I hate it when e.g. explorer.exe stops responding -.- It just shouldn’t happen.

    That being said, the new task manager looks delicious and far more userfriendly to the average user, while still offering advanced monitoring options for powerusers etc.

    • Seth_p

      Program correctness isn’t perfect science, on my MBP I’ve had the dock become unresponsive a couple of times - nothing crazy though. At work we run Slackware w/ KDE as our X-server *cough* and that thing bugs out way too much. I haven’t had any issues with Windows Explorer, but it has happened. Not enough for me to really care though. Shit happens. I know what you’re saying, consumers shouldn’t have to really worry about Windows core services (or other any other OS) taking a dump on you.

    • Anonymous

      Exactly what I mean.

    • Test1ngi23

      Making any non-trivial piece of software 100% bug-free is an impossible endeavor. What’s more important is making the system be able to recover from failures in a reasonable way.

    • GP007

      Last time I ran into exploere.exe problems was back with Windows XP.  MS since vista switched Windows explorer and the desktop explorer from using a shared process to using their own (something you could force in XP through a registry change) so now, even if Windows Explorer stop responding (which could be due to a 3rd party shell plug in or it could be trying to read a bad file) then it won’t take the desktop down with it.   It’s just not possible to “hang” the desktop anymore, not since Vista.

      If a bad driver does though, the DWM will just restart and you’ll notice a single screen flicker.  The OS doesn’t crash unless there’s a bigger issue, CPU/RAM or HDD related which will, lets be honest here, crash any OS out there.

    • http://profiles.google.com/elmsoftware John Lueders

      I agree about ‘explorer.exe stops responding’…the core (most visible part) of the operating system should never stop responding…It happens on my Vista still (rarely but it happens)…My Win 7 machines are much more stable and I hope that never happens in Windows 8.

    • Guest

      I think I’ve had explorer become unresponsive maybe once in two years of running W7 production and beta.

    • Abiddine

      Responsiveness depends on the system reources available. Plus, this was just a demonstration and they probably froze it on pupose.

  • Guest

    Does Windsux still get viruses? Yes? Then they shouldn’t be calling Windblows 8 an improvement. FIX YOUR VIRUSES M$!

    • GP007

      Anything can get a virus if the USER clicks YES and lets it install.    I don’t remember the last time I got a virus on Windows,  but then I don’t go blindly clicking OK to everything that pops up on my screen.

    • Seth_p

      You still haven’t taken your meds yet?

      Just to entertain you though, I haven’t had any of my PC’s infected since the Blaster virus on XP. Guess I know what I’m actually doing ;-)

    • Anonymous

      It looks like he’s got a pretty bad case of crazy isheep syndrome. I hope he finds his meds soon

    • Anonymous

      I try not to resort to this type of language, but I guess it has been a bad day for me.  Anyways, your a fucking moron.  Do you understand the nature of viruses?  Now a days, the most common (and i mean %99+) of attacks against Windows machines are done through social engineering.  MS cannot stop a user form clicking yes on a “DO YOU WANT CHEAP VIAGRA!!!” email and installing whatever application it comes with.  If you want to bitch at MS about this issue, then you need to bitch at Apple for the MacDefender attack.  In fact, that one was worse, because Safari had a default setting to execute any program downloaded.  Take your bull shit somewhere else, this is a Windows blog and we are more informed than your average anti-M$ idiot.

    • Anonymous

      You and me both. Today is just one of “those days”.

    • Guest

      Yeah, you’ve put in a tough shift, shill. What are you up to, 40 posts so far today? When does the second shift take over?

    • Seth_p

      <3 you lol

    • http://twitter.com/laserfloyd Lewis McCrary

      Thanks for saying what a lot of us wanted to say. :)

    • PG

      MacDefender malware, look it up – over 30k macs infected within a week.   Almost all attacks now are malware, there aren’t many if any at all real ‘viruses’ as there were years ago; now it requires a dumb user (that’s you) to install an application that harms your machine.  In the case of macdefender safari auto installs the application because the same idiots that think there is nothing that can harm their mac are the same idiots that work at apple – clueless fools who are naive.  There are variants of macdefender coming out on a weekly basis and the reason apple keeps releasing security updates that add applications to their blocklist. 

    • Anonymous

      You only get viruses if you are an idiot user.  also MacDefender.

    • Anonymous

      Haven’t had any viruses since vista. To get a virus now, you basically have to be stupid and install it yourself. The same thing will happen on OSX, except since OSX users don’t install antivirus, they won’t know that they installed a virus.

    • Abiddine

      Who said Macs don’t get viruses you misinformed fool. If hackers can break into Pentagon’s computer then they can certainly to the same thing to macs.

    • Anonymous

      Viruses are more of a users problem.  I bet you like clicking email attachments from strangers.  I feel sorry for your friends in your contact list.

    • Anonymous

      I forgot, people like you dont have friends. hahaha

    • Anonymous

      Every time it’s related with virus, then every time it’s all down to the users. Your statement should be ‘Do I still get viruses? Yes? Then I shouldn’t touch anything called computers nor their derivatives. FIX MY BRAIN PLEASE!’

  • Anonymous

    Looks like they finally copied OSX’s “Force kill” window. Only took ‘em 10 years.

    • Guest

      10 years? You mean like the amount of time it took Apple to provide full screen windows?

    • Anonymous

      Eh, there were a number of tools out there that could easily give you fullscreen windows with a keystroke. Was it native? No. Did it need to be? Nope.

    • Guest

      Um, same for alternative task managers in Windows. Try to keep up, okay?

    • Ian

      However, Apple is bragging about its “Full Screen mode” BLAH BLAH BLAH. Besides, Apple’s list of 250 + features are mostly software updates that Microsoft could use if it included Win Live Essentials in their new features list.

    • Seth_p

      It’s actually called “Force Quit” if you want you want to quote. Also, I didn’t know the “Force Quit
      Application” had all the features Windows had in Task Manager in the 10 year span; unless you’re being sarcastic… I can never tell ;-)

    • Anonymous

      No it’s the concept of a user-friendly task killer that Apple had 10 years and now MSFT finally has. Windows settings are filled with “geek-view” only apps which explains why so many people converted to Mac. OSX is just insanely simple to use if you don’t understand anything about computers.

    • Seth_p

      Yep, I’ll give you that on friendly UX. That’s why I bought mom and pop a Mac :-(

    • Guest

      “simple to use if you don’t understand anything about computers.”

      That explains your choice.     

    • Anonymous

      It’s just the application tab of the old task manager. All they did was hide the detailed information. It’s hardly copying Apple.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KTAHVKS2RNDWTQPHQEJALLRNEQ Adam Paris

      Ah thats why OSX’s market share is still the same after 10 years. Yeah peoplare massively buying Mac’s. The funny thing is that lots of people with Mac just run Windows 7 on it, because its easier to understand.

    • Guest

      Yeah, I can barely use TaskManager. It’s soooo complicated looking at that initial tab view that is the equivalent of Force Quit and then all those other tabs. Scary. stfu.

    • Guest

      I think you mean Force Quit there, sport. And Force Quit doesn’t provide the more detailed view. That would require Activity Monitor on OS X. So really your comment is just stupid, like usual.

    • Ian

      I am wondering if Arrowsmith is a Microsoft or @ pple lover? He is ALWAYS SOOOO Negative. If he complemented more I might be a little more happier.

    • Guest

      He’s a troll and Apple fanboy. He just throws in the occasional pro MS comment to throw people off. But anybody who visits here more than once can see right through that. I also think he’s mentally unbalanced, as in seriously so vs the normal troll madness. But that’s a separate issue.

    • http://twitter.com/furdworetzky Fur Dworetzky

      You can force kill processes in the process tab. The ability to do that has been around since Windows 2000 at least.

    • Anonymous

      Such window does not need to be shown to regular users. Windows has End Now window anyway. And really it’s not like you need Force kill in Windows that often as in Mac. I never used it since Windows 7. But hey, maybe I am just a regular user.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jairo-Luciano-Alves/100002545369889 Jairo Luciano Alves

    Really nice things coming out of Redmond lately, uh!? :)
    #win8tabletuser

  • Naser

    Thats really cool but am waiting for Microsoft big bang with they will kill the Registry

    • Guest

      gl with that.

    • Seth_p

      Well, that’s just not going to happen. For a long time at least. You could go back and replace them with a bunch of config files, but that’d be a pain to revert. The main problem with the registry is the lack of knowledge developers have – they’ll script out some defaults and during an uninstall it doesn’t perform any clean-up. It’s not a big concern, but can get messy. Developers have other impelementations that can be picked from, it’s just a matter of educating them w/ good coding practice.

  • Emi Cyberschreiber

    i always used Resource monitor (which is still there) for that, see how processes are using everything.
    So i like new task manager because even when i dont use it much to close apps (yeah, everything is been stable lately) now i don’t have to open resource monitor every single time like i did with win7.

    Dev Preview is just amazing!

  • http://www.magicphone.it ricambi cellulari

    seems a good improvement… especially from a graphical point of view.

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  • http://doctorwhofan98.wordpress.com/ doctorwhofan98

    I wish Windows 8 came out today, not late next year…

  • Fate-Kun

    The new task manager seems to be amazing if all you want is GUI but even that now looks all bulky with uneccessarily big list titles, on a lower rez screen for example (640×480/Safe mode) the task manager is already friggin huge, I can just imagine how much bigger this new one will be.
    as for information, the task manager seems to have lost a lot of it’s information, sure you can cpu and network usage but I didn’t see a services tab to show all running services, or half of the information the current task manger gives you about your PC’s performance.

    All in all I’m skeptical about the whole new feel of Win8, I just recently got used to Win7 and soon, I’ll ave to get used to Metro Style Win8…. seems like it’s just going to be Win7 with much more of a ram hog cuz of the metro view, if not then I’m all for it, but I’ll remain a skeptic until I’ve tried it out myself…