Microsoft's Windows 8 will feature a revamped task manager, yet another tweak in the upcoming operating system.
The Windows teams crafting
the next version of the popular operating system, in essence, serve two
masters: The casual users who want an easy-to-use interface, lightweight enough
to run on lower-powered PCs and tablets, and the power users who want their
highly customized systems to power through arcane multiple processor-draining
With task manager, the issue
of trying to serve the needs of both those groups comes to something of a head.
The frustrated casual user, having tried to run a game atop their Word
processor, and having vapor-locked their system as a result, wants only to open
task manager and smack the "End Task" button. The power user, on the other
hand, wants access to those tabs along the top, including "Networking" and
"Users," that give them more granular control over Windows processes.
Taking all that into
account, task manager for Windows 8 will boast a fairly radical new look. "The
value of the default view is all about what we took out. We removed everything
not focused on the core task of killing apps, which makes the design focused
and efficient," Ryan Haveson, group program manager of Microsoft's In Control
of Your PC team, wrote in an Oct. 13 posting on the Building
The "More details" button at
the bottom of the task manager window opens up options for power users, which
segments into subcategories such as "Applications" and "Background processes."
Microsoft has also added
"friendly" names for line items, such as, in its example, "Print driver host
for applications" in place of "splwow64.exe." There's also a search context
menu accessible for each item via right-click, for easy access to information
about a particular application or process.
Windows 8 already offers a radical
departure from the "traditional" Windows. That tile-centric start screen will
make the operating system more palatable for tablets, and in theory allow
Microsoft to challenge Apple's iPad in the touch-screen space. In addition,
users will have the option of flipping to a desktop interface. Other entries in
the Building Windows 8
discussed issues such as the Windows team's attempts to reduce runtime memory
requirements and malware security, in an apparent bid to convince potential
users that Windows 8 can serve equally as a robust operating system for
desktops and laptops, and as a lightweight interface for tablets.
Windows 8 is widely expected
to arrive sometime in 2012.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter