Windows 8 task manager

I’ve been playing around with one of the leaked Windows 8 builds (7955), which out-of-the-box doesn’t feel all that different from Windows 7. You’ve likely seen some interesting stuff floating around the Internet about Windows 8 though, which is because most of the screenshots are from hidden features that people have managed to uncover. One of my favorite new features is the revamped Windows Task Manager.

I’m sure most of you are intimately familiar with the Windows Task Manager, and it’s been pretty much the same for the last decade. It is getting a rather extreme makeover in Windows 8 though, and I have to admit that it looks pretty awesome.

The screenshot at the beginning of this article is what most people will see when they fire up the Task Manager in Windows 8, but power users will likely click through to the More Information link. That’s when you get into the good stuff:

Windows 8 task manager processes 1

As you’d expect the Processes tab shows you all of the stuff that is running, and it is broken out into a few categories: Applications, Background Programs, and Windows System-Critical Programs. This makes it a bit easier to see which programs you can safely close without completely crashing your system. It also appears that the Task Manager will highlight cells (CPU, memory, disk, or network usage) that pass certain thresholds to make processes using more resources a little more obvious.

As of right now this is what shows up under the Windows System-Critical Programs section:

Windows 8 task manager processes 2

The Startup tab will let you view a list of all the items that are designated to start when your machine boots up. You can then right-click on any of the entries and disable them if you feel it’s something you don’t need to run. The Startup Impact column sounds interesting, but I couldn’t get any data to show up there in my testing. My guess is that this column will analyze data from a bunch of reboots to determine the average amount of time that a process adds to your boot cycle. You’ll then be able to see which apps have the biggest performance hits, and then you’ll be able to disable them if they’re not needed.

Windows 8 task manager startup

The Users tab shows all the applications that are being run by a given user as well as the overall resources consumed by that user. You can also see that there are at least three different levels of highlighting in the memory usage column:

Windows 8 task manager users

What about some of the advanced details that you were able to add in the old Task Manager like the process ID (PID)? They are still there, but you have to click the Performance Dashboard link. You’ll then be taken to the Advanced Task Manager where you can add all of the columns (you can right-click a column header to add more columns) that you’ve grown accustomed to over the last decade. This is what the advanced Processes tab looks like:

Windows 8 advanced task manager processes

The Services tab is nothing special… just shows all of the performance data for the services.

Windows 8 advanced task manager services

The Dashboard is where you’ll get an overview of your system’s performance through a bunch of graphs. Each CPU core will get its own graph while the overall CPU, memory, disk, and network usage is shown off to the side.

Windows 8 advanced task manager dashboard

That’s about everything there is to show you. The Windows 8 Task Manager is really shaping up to be something both novice and power users will be able to appreciate. I look forward to seeing how it progresses in future builds, and will keep an eye out for other interesting aspects of Windows 8 to share.