Win8 Task Manager simplifies process killing

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.

Comments closed
    • Wirko
    • 8 years ago

    Looks sweet. Dear Microsoft, please give me many “more details” and “more options” buttons in the new Windows. I will pay extra for every single one of them.

    • pogsnet1
    • 8 years ago

    Why they did not do that on Win7? Anyway that can be a downloadable option for Win7 but marketing again makes it not possible.

    • FireGryphon
    • 8 years ago

    The more I see of Win8, the more I like it. Just waiting for the video showing how to use the terminal…

      • Anonymous Coward
      • 8 years ago

      I’d love a proper terminal! With proper copy, paste and selection and without the braindead command history. Then they should integrate it with explorer, with a widget that allows people who care to launch a terminal in the location of the explorer window, or the other way around. Maybe a hotkey to switch between terminal and explorer views of the location.

      [b<]That[/b<] is how they can show they care about power users.

        • Myrmecophagavir
        • 8 years ago

        You might not know this one: you can open a command prompt from Windows Explorer by shit-right-clicking a folder, which adds “open command prompt here” to the context menu. This was added as powertoy to Windows XP and rolled into the core with Vista, I think.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 8 years ago

          I’m dying to know what got “bleeped” out here.

            • Geistbar
            • 8 years ago

            Maybe it was “click”, and they forgot the “L” and pressed “D” instead of “C”? It’s the best I can think of, though I don’t know if it’s auto-censored or not.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 8 years ago

        How about PowerShell?

    • kc77
    • 8 years ago

    This video sounds like it was made by Apple.

    “In the old task manager the Applications View [b<]had not only the processes[/b<] but it also had all of the top level windows listed.." The hell it does.... I'm pretty sure I don't see winlogon.exe in the Applications view. Don't you hate it when csrss.exe gets a mind of it's own and appears in the Application Tab? "Now in the past you could go to the processes tab and [b<]see all of the raw data[/b<]..." Say what? I can?!? Really? Oh my God it just keeps getting better as you go...This is painful... "The other great thing that we added to the heat map is that we added [b<]disk and network counters per process. The old task manager had just CPU and Memory and you would have to use a different tool to see the other resources."[/b<] So I'm assuming that [b<]Add Columns[/b<] is a new tool?

      • Kharnellius
      • 8 years ago

      I get what you’re saying, but I think he was referring to default settings which, let’s face it, most people never change.

      • Meadows
      • 8 years ago

      -1.
      “Select Columns” does NOT offer networking options, and does NOT offer an I/O composite option, so you would have to check in I/O reads, writes, and “other” all separately in addition, generating even more bloat and inefficiency.

      About the process/window nitpick, you’re just being pedantic. You know [i<]exactly[/i<] what the man meant.

        • kc77
        • 8 years ago

        Sorry if he’s going to speak about an operating system’s technical aspects then he should probably speak like he works for Microsoft not Engadget.

        He said the old task manager just has CPU and memory is this correct? No it’s not.

          • Meadows
          • 8 years ago

          Stop talking already, it makes you sound dumb.

            • kc77
            • 8 years ago

            Not when I’m talking next to you. 🙂

    • Buzzard44
    • 8 years ago

    My preferred method of killing processes is:
    kill <process id>
    See, that wasn’t so hard?

    • tcunning1
    • 8 years ago

    Dear Microsoft,

    Please design Windows 8 so your applications and processes WON’T CRASH, and then I won’t need Task Manager.

    Sincerely,
    Everybody

      • travbrad
      • 8 years ago

      While that would be nice it’s really unrealistic. Even MacOS and iOS have crashes, and those are completely locked down systems hardware wise (and software-wise to some extent).

      Windows has to support millions of different system configurations, and there are an almost infinite number of applications available for it. It’s not surprising that some of those applications aren’t of the highest quality and may crash.

        • Kharnellius
        • 8 years ago

        No, see don’t you understand? tcunning1 thinks Microsoft makes all the software that is made for a PC.

          • sweatshopking
          • 8 years ago

          I USE WINDOWS. I GET MY PROGRAMS FROM EVERYWHERE, BUT I KNOW THAT SOMEHOW, IT’S MICROSOFT’S FAULT.

            • destroy.all.monsters
            • 8 years ago

            Made me laugh but Apple, and to a lesser extent Commodore, back in the day were pretty good about making sure everything ran and ran properly as well as using the UI fairly optimally.

            Still I +1ed you.

        • destroy.all.monsters
        • 8 years ago

        Lies!

        You have this annoying (not really) tendency to bring sense and knowledge into a variety of threads.

        Please cease and desist immediately.

        (I actually rather like it just felt it needed to be said)

      • bcronce
      • 8 years ago

      Microsoft Apps are actually quite good at not not-responding. It’s the 3rd party apps that aren’t properly threaded.

    • Parallax
    • 8 years ago

    Please add an “always show more details” setting. It’s one of the most annoying things in Windows 7 that I have to click it every single time for file copy dialogs.

    • DarkUltra
    • 8 years ago

    Please reduce the whitespace between rows, or include an option to do so. I guess it is to accomodate touch-input users, but i’d rather you not bloat away the screen space like that. I don’t buy a geforce 470 just so the developers can waste away its performance.

    Windows 8 is becoming a “do less – see less” experience. I really love the new explorer qat customization and combined copy/move dialogue!

      • Meadows
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah, whitespace is going to bog down your GPU.

        • indeego
        • 8 years ago

        And it’s racist.

          • yogibbear
          • 8 years ago

          White Space Power!

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 years ago

      So you want a bunch of crazy 3d effects, with MASSIVE tessellation???

        • Duck
        • 8 years ago

        Render lots of tesselwater. cover with white space.

      • Frith
      • 8 years ago

      I think DarkUltra’s point was that he rows are very widely spaced with nothing but white waste between them. For a given sized window less information is presented, and in order to see most of the entries you have to scroll. I too would rather have a tighter row spacing to avoid the need to scroll up and down in order to see information.

      As DarkUltra says, this seems to have been designed for touch. If the rows were too tightly spaced it would be hard to touch the row you want. Windows 8 seems to be making a lot of sacrifices to accommodate for touch despite the fact very few people are going to choose to sit touching their monitor and most will stick with mouse and keyboard.

      As for his comment about the the GeForce 470, I don’t really see the relevance of that either.

        • Malphas
        • 8 years ago

        As much as I dislike touch-oriented GUIs as the next desktop user, you’re missing a trick here, Frith. A lot of people on tech sites are stuck in a 90’s mentality and failing to realise that most computers these days are laptops, not desktops. Touch is awful and useless on a desktop monitor but it makes sense when you’ve got a relatively small laptop screen (and things do seem to be trending away from large 15″-17″ screens to 11.6″-13″ ones) fairly close to you, and the alternative is a trackpad. When you throw in the growing tablet sector then touch makes even more sense for Microsoft to incorporate.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 8 years ago

          Why not just have multiple GUIs the user can choose between?

            • Malphas
            • 8 years ago

            It’s not worth their hassle just to appease a shrinking minority, I guess. Maintaining and testing two sets of code, complicating customer support, etc.

      • destroy.all.monsters
      • 8 years ago

      Kind of see your point but as my eyesight gets worse I prefer having some differentiation like that. I can see how it’s seen as a sort of dumbing down of the UI provided that’s your point. Still the heatmap makes it pretty nice too.

      Maybe I am just getting too old though.

    • thanatos355
    • 8 years ago

    Dear Microsoft,

    I do not need you to dumb things down for me. If I don’t understand how something works, I’ll turn to my good friend Google for advice. He’s never let me down yet, especially with regards as how to handle you and your products.

    Sincerely,

    Notatard

      • Myrmecophagavir
      • 8 years ago

      Eh? This isn’t dumbed down.

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 8 years ago

      I thumbed you down cuz I don’t think this is retarded. It actually looks like an improvement. Think in terms of customer standings, it is easier for 90% of the people and then have the “details” for the above average user. Looks like a win-win in a business sense.

      • SPOOFE
      • 8 years ago

      Dear Notatard,

      You’re 1% of our user base. The other 99% of our user base is a humongous source of malware, spam, viruses, trojans, bot-infected PCs, zombie networks, hackers, crackers, and child pornography, at least some of which negatively affect your life on what is likely a regular basis.

      You’re welcome.

      Sincerely,

      Microsoft

        • thanatos355
        • 8 years ago

        So everyone other than a pc enthusiast is a “humongous source of malware, spam, viruses, trojans, bot-infected PCs, zombie networks, hackers, crackers, and child pornography”? I think your world view is a little skewed.

      • Kharnellius
      • 8 years ago

      Me thinks someone did not watch the video.

    • Chrispy_
    • 8 years ago

    My complaints have been answered. Clearer process identification and disk I/O on the summary screen.

    Man, that was fast, I only expressed my annoyance with the W7 task manager four days ago 😉

    [url<]https://techreport.com/discussions.x/21804[/url<]

      • dpaus
      • 8 years ago

      It seems they listen to you… Can I send you my [s<]bitchfest[/s<] wishlist?

      • ImSpartacus
      • 8 years ago

      Ok, now let’s get onto the more important topics. When will Windows fix the whole not-turning-into-a-laser-of-terror-and-destruction bug? This is a serious one, Redmond, get on it!

      • Ricardo Dawkins
      • 8 years ago

      too funny because they are discussing the developer preview that was released like weeks ago. Even at their build conference this *new* task manager was featured.

      • l33t-g4m3r
      • 8 years ago

      Now if only they fixed the GUI.

    • Sencapri
    • 8 years ago

    I was wondering if windows 7 is going to get some of the new tools in windows 8? service pack 2 or something in that direction? would we get the new scheduler from windows 8? or would they leave windows 7 behind the new improved version? or are these way to difficult to implement in a patch or service pack?

      • StuG
      • 8 years ago

      They want you to buy Windows 8, why would they give it to you free on Windows 7?

      • bcronce
      • 8 years ago

      Once you purchase an OS from MS, it’s mostly feature frozen. You will get bug fixes, and rarely some minor additional features, but almost never full-blown new stuff. XP was kind of an exception because it was having massive malware outbreaks and the new firewall helped a ton, not to mention they didn’t have a new OS to even purchase for the longest time.

    • albundy
    • 8 years ago

    could it really be? what an ingenious idea to have a Process Explorer like task manager…what the hell took them so long to figure this out?

    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 8 years ago

    I use Process Explorer. Shortcut in the Startup folder, it’s always open.

      • MagerValp
      • 8 years ago

      If you constantly need to monitor the low level details of your OS, doesn’t that mean that it’s broken?

        • cygnus1
        • 8 years ago

        broken app/os or you’re a user with OCD

          • bcronce
          • 8 years ago

          Process Explorer gives you graphs/counters per application. It makes it easy to diagnose problems AFTER the problem is noticed.

          If you load up Taskmgr/PE after the problem occurs, you probably won’t figure what the problem is/was and it may be months before it happens again. Or even worse, depending on the situation, it could be indicative of malware.

            • l33t-g4m3r
            • 8 years ago

            Exactly. It’s very useful for troubleshooting. For example, my getright download manager sometimes will suck CPU for no reason and I need to restart it. ProcEx is also very good for detecting malware, spyware, and adware that sneaks it’s way onto my system.

            • DarkUltra
            • 8 years ago

            ProcExp also useful as it highlights closed processes so you know when you can click “try again” on that flash plugin update. Apps doesn’t close immediately like they did on Windows 95 anymore…

        • derFunkenstein
        • 8 years ago

        not sure how you wound up with a -8 but I agree with this sentiment. It’s either broken or you’re waiting for it to be that way.

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 8 years ago

      Same here. I don’t care what everyone else says, but this is a life saver at times.

      • destroy.all.monsters
      • 8 years ago

      Between that and System Explorer I’m pretty set. So many great free tools out there.

    • indeego
    • 8 years ago

    Heat map is wonderful.

      • khands
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah, that’ll make it a lot easier to keep track of certain processes.

    • yogibbear
    • 8 years ago

    EDIT: as indeego points out below I am an idiot and ctrl+shift+esc gets you there quicker….

    vista:
    ctrl+alt+del -> task manager -> clicks cpu column, end task.

    win8:
    ctrl+alt+del -> task manager (i assume this is the same) -> more details -> looks for red/orange thing, end task

    Yes, this is kind of functional. But I WILL be setting more details to default. I worry that non-admin accounts without an admin password won’t be able to change these kinds of settings.

    Would be nice if they could implement some more features e.g. realTemp or whatever into the task manager.

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      or:
      Every Windows OS for over a decade: :
      Control+Shift+ESC

      CPU isn’t the end-all to troubleshooting a hanging or borked system.

        • 5150
        • 8 years ago

        Can you start your own blog with Windows shortcuts I didn’t know but need to?

          • Meadows
          • 8 years ago

          How could you NOT know that one? It’s ancient.

            • flip-mode
            • 8 years ago

            I didn’t know it. It’s pretty easy not to know every Windows keyboard shortcut that exists.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 8 years ago

            I’m with you. There are just so many. I’m grateful for them all because I’m a keyboard lover.

            • mutarasector
            • 8 years ago

            Hell yeah it’s old. Although it also reminds me of the “Vulcan Nerve Pinch” (Ctrl+R Amiga=L Amiga) on my old Amiga.

          • yogibbear
          • 8 years ago

          ctrl+shift+del while in internet explorer brings up “delete browsing history”

            • khands
            • 8 years ago

            Also works in Firefox, probably Chrome too.

          • pogsnet1
          • 8 years ago

          In addition F1 for help

        • yogibbear
        • 8 years ago

        OMFG… like you just saved me the pain of mouse clicks! I love you.

          • SomeOtherGeek
          • 8 years ago

          Right-mouse click on taskbar -> Start Task Manager? That is a whole lot easier.

          EDIT: Oops, already explained.

        • Geistbar
        • 8 years ago

        In Win7 (and I believe Vista as well) you can also right click on an empty spot on the taskbar and there will be an option to bring up the task manager.

        Not as quick as a keyboard shortcut, but still useful.

          • yogibbear
          • 8 years ago

          Yeah confirmed in vista.

          • cygnus1
          • 8 years ago

          this works in XP and server 2k3 as well, don’t have a 2K system to verify, but i believe it’s their as well. but ctrl-shift-esc is a nice single handed shortcut i’ve gotten quite used to

            • StuffMaster
            • 8 years ago

            Yeah, and in Windows 7 the changed it to ‘Start Task Manager’, as if I didn’t realize it had to start in order to run…so stupid.

        • l33t-g4m3r
        • 8 years ago

        I thought everyone knew this, but then again I thought people were intelligent enought to tell the difference between borked drivers and shoddy game programming. Protip: People are idiots. BSOD / Error: PEBKAC.

        • Kharnellius
        • 8 years ago

        I would hug you if I could. Never knew about this! 🙂

      • RealPjotr
      • 8 years ago

      Stop using ctrl-alt-del, much quicker with ctrl-shift-esc!

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