Windows 10 build 14942 splits up service hosts

This past Friday, Microsoft's official Windows blog detailed the updates coming in Windows 10 build 14942. The biggest changes will please power users and system administrators immensely. Front and center, the Windows Registry Editor is finally getting an address bar. Folks keen on hand-editing their registry will be able to copy-and-paste or manually type their way to locations in the registry. It's mind-boggling to imagine that Microsoft hasn't implemented this feature in the 23 years since the launch of Windows NT, but better late than never, we suppose.

Sysadmins should also take note of the upcoming changes to the way service hosting works in this build. Historically, Windows has grouped running services under a small number of service hosts (svchost.exe processes) to save on memory overhead. As the Windows Blog points out, that decision was made back in the era of Windows 2000, when the recommended amount of system memory was just 256 MB. In build 14942, PCs with 3.5 GB of RAM or more will run each service in its own process.

The new model has enormous benefits for both system stability and ease of maintenance. Under the current model, if a service in a shared host fails, it will take down every service in that shared host. Splitting services into their individual processes will obviously avoid this calamity. Furthermore, when a service malfunctions and starts chewing up RAM or disk I/O, it will be much easier to determine which service is at fault. Malware also likes to masquerade as a legitimate service, a deception that will be that much harder under the new model.

Besides those changes, various other parts of Windows are being updated. Users will be able to hide the app list on the Start menu in the new build, and the Photos app is getting a full UI rework with lots of quality-of-life improvements. Gesture and click detection on precision touchpads is getting an overhaul. System upgrades will remember when pre-installed apps are removed and will not re-install them. The "Active Hours" feature that lets users delay upgrades and restarts to idle hours has had its range extended to 18 hours. Finally, and most importantly, Microsoft is changing the icon for Windows Update to a more modern design.

For now, these updates are only coming to Windows Insiders on the fast ring, but they will eventually propagate all the way out to end-users. If you're eager to start typing addresses into the registry editor, becoming an Insider is free.

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