Microsoft has made much of the fact that Windows 8 is tailored for tablets. The new Metro interface is definitely designed with capacitive touchscreens in mind, and the under-the-hood optimizations seem targeted at making the OS more responsive on the low-power hardware typically found in slates. Redmond still has plenty of love for more powerful PCs, though, as evidenced by tweaks to the Windows 8 Task Manager.
We’ve already seen how the Task Manager has been massaged to make errant processes easier to identify and kill. Now, the Building Windows 8 blog has revealed changes to the performance tab designed to improve its usability in systems with multiple logical processors. Microsoft uses the example of a 64-core system, which fills the traditional Task Manager with a bunch of tiny CPU usage graphs that are difficult to read. In place of those graphs, the new Task Manager uses a color-coded “heat map” to characterize the utilization of logical processors.
Of course, line graphs haven’t been completely removed from the performance tab. A column of simplified graphs tracks overall CPU utilization in addition to memory, disk, and networking usage. More detailed monitoring should also be available through the Resource Monitor, which is still linked at the bottom of the performance tab.
I’m rather attached to the real-time CPU utilization graphs of the old Task Manager, so I’m not sure how I feel about the new heat map. For systems with loads of logical processors, it’s undoubtedly a better design. However, I can’t help but wonder if the heat map is too oversimplified for the average PC, which typically has between two and eight logical processors.