Microsoft's seems intent on simplifying the user interface with Windows 8, and the Task Manager hasn't escaped its attention. The Building Windows 8 blog has a new post detailing efforts to streamline the Task Manager for mainstream folks while adding functionality for power users.
Most people use the Task Manager to kill unresponsive applications, and that's pretty much the only thing you can do from the new simplified view. This new default view displays a list of running applications and highlights those that aren't responding, but it doesn't really do anything else. To get at the Task Manager's expanded interface, you'll have to click a "more details" button.
Although features have been stripped from the Task Manager's default view, the detailed one has been spruced up with all kinds of goodies. The applications and processes tabs have been consolidated into a single screen that more intelligently sorts and groups processes, windows, and applications. Each process' disk and network usage can now be monitored from the same screen that tracks CPU and memory utilization, and those fields have all been color-coded with a "heat map" that allows particularly active processes to be spotted without having to click on columns to sort the results.
Sick of seeing multiple identical-looking entries for svchost.exe? The Windows 8 Task Manager uses more descriptive names for the processes it tracks, and it provides a handy Internet lookup feature if you want more information on what each one does.
PC enthusiasts may scoff at Windows 8's Metro UI and Microsoft's efforts to simplify the user experience, but it seems to me that plenty of time is being spent tuning the OS to better serve power users. As long as its detailed view can be made the default, the new Task Manager looks like a definite improvement over the one in Windows 7.