Let’s be honest, the news about Windows 8 isn’t all sunshine and roses. Many people question the value of Windows 8 over Windows 7, especially if you’re using a traditional computer and not a touch screen tablet. Windows Task Manager got a big overhaul in Windows 8, and now gives a lot more useful information in a layout that’s far easier to understand.
To open Task Manager in Windows 8, you right-click the task bar and click Task Manager, or press Ctrl + Shift + Esc, and you’ll be presented with the new process tab by default. This tab now includes the proper name of the program, along with information on the CPU usage, memory usage, disk access usage and network usage. You can right-click on any of these applications or background processes and select go to details to view the selection in the details tab, with the traditional process view of Windows 7 task manager. This new process view gives you a much better picture of what the programs are, as well as what may be slowing down/hogging system resources.
The performance tab gives a much more streamlined interface to monitor your system’s current performance. CPU utilization is listed as a graph showing all of your computer’s processor cores. On the left of the screen, you see information pertaining to memory usage, disk access, network access and Wi-Fi access. You can also view detailed information on your processor’s current speed, its number of physical and logical cores (some processors support hyper threading, so each core can process two things at the same time), and other system information.
The app history tab is specific to Windows 8 store apps and will show you the processor time, network usage, metered network (if your tablet has a 3G or 4G data plan), and tile update usage. This is very useful for Windows 8 tablet users to see which apps may be negatively affecting their performance, or which have so many updates and network resources that they may want to consider uninstalling them. This is not a huge benefit to traditional desktop users, but if you’ve ever had to deal with mystery apps on Android slowing down your system, this kind of utility would be a god send.
Last but not least is the new Startup tab, which may be one of the best improvements Microsoft has made to Task Manager. This tab allows you to view all of the applications and files that launch when your computer starts. These programs traditionally include helper toolbars, program updaters, tray applications, and other utilities useful to operating devices on your computer. They can also be a massive drag on computer start-up time, causing your computer to run slower than it should.
In this tab, you’ll see the application name, publisher, whether it’s enabled or disabled, and what the impact on the start up speed has been. You can right-click any of these applications and choose to disable or enable the program at start up, open the file, get properties, or best of all, search online, which will locate the process name so you can get more information on what it might be for. This single utility will help people remove useless tray applications and see what’s causing windows to start and run slower, without the need for a third party program or advanced knowledge registry editing.
While the improvements to Task Manager do not make up for the various missteps of Windows 8 in its entirety, this is a significant improvement that makes me miss the new Task Manager whenever I use Windows 7.