In-Depth with the Windows 8 Consumer Previewby Andrew Cunningham, Ryan Smith, Kristian Vättö & Jarred Walton on March 9, 2012 10:30 AM EST
For the first time in memory, the Windows Task Manager has gotten a significant overhaul, and that doesn’t just refer to its new Metro-esque styling—Task Manager now combines functions from the old Task Manager, the Windows Resource Monitor, and MSConfig into a new, more useful app that provides a lot of information in a clean and simple way.
Open up the Task Manager and click “More Details” and the first thing you’ll see is the Processes tab, which gives you a clean list of all Metro and desktop apps running on your system and the resources they’re using—the new Task Manager tracks CPU, RAM, disk, and network bandwidth usage. You can see both absolute values (Firefox is using 164.7 MB of RAM) or in percentages (Firefox is using 8.9% of your RAM), and you can spot resource hogs at a glance—as you can see in the screenshot above, the colors in the Task Manager vary based on how much of a given resource a process is consuming. Apps, background processes, and Windows/system processes are each displayed under their own subheadings.
The Performance tab now tracks CPU, RAM, disk, and network usage, and it tracks each network interface separately for your convenience. The CPU graph can be configured to show activity on all cores combined or separately. You can view both graphs and hard numbers for each resource, and you can also see different information about your computer’s hardware—the current clock speed of your CPU, the number of RAM slots you have and how many are occupied, your current IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, and more. The Resource Monitor is still available if you need a more advanced view, but this tab alone drastically increases the Task Manager’s usefulness.
Next up, the App History tab shows statistics for resource usage over time. It’s mostly geared toward network usage, breaking out stats for how much data an app has used on both metered and non-metered networks, as well as how much bandwidth has been spent on keeping Metro live tiles up to date. It also gives you statistics for CPU time. App usage history can be deleted at any time if you’d like a fresh start.
The other tabs are pretty self-explanatory, so we’ll go through them quickly: the Startup tab shows a list of programs that launch when your computer starts. This functionality used to be handled by a combination of the “Startup” folder in the Start menu and a tab in the MSConfig.exe utility (which still exists, but is no longer used to control startup items). The Users tab shows resource usage broken out by logged-in users, much like in the old Task Manager, and will also allow administrators to disconnect users. The Details tab gives a complete unadorned list of all processes and their resource usage, while the Services tab shows all services on your computer whether they’re running or not—you can start, stop, or restart services from this tab, but you’ll have to go into the Services utility for more options.