Windows 8 will include a redesigned task manager, that on default view will simply display program names and the “end process” button. New features include user-friendly process names, grouping, heatmaps to visualize performance of processes as well as the user interface improvements.
In terms of simplification gone are the services, performance, networking and users tabs and in is a simple list of processes with a button to end processes. Microsoft research showed that the other tabs were only used 15% of the time. The notification to confirm that you wish to end processes was also removed, meaning the job is done in one click. Also, users will no longer see the cryptic process names such as igfxpers.exe (that’s the Intel Common User Interface Module), these are replaced with a user-friendly name that is often the title of the application.
However, one of the goals of the new task manager was to not remove features. “explicitly set a goal to not remove functionality, but rather to augment, enhance, and improve” said Ryan Haveson, a group program manager, in a post on the Building Windows 8 blog.
The new task manager with its simplified look doesn’t forget power users. Haveson said “we know from many third-party tools (or tools like Sysinternals Process Explorer [Microsoft acquired Sysinternals in 2006]) there are many things we could add to Task Manager for power users”. Microsoft have hidden these features under a “more details” view which brings up a redesigned tab interface.
In the “more details” view, processes are grouped by applications, background and Windows processes. CPU, memory and the new categories of network and disk counters are included on the same page with a heatmap visualization which allows users to identify which processes are hogging memory.
Users of Process Explorer will be familiar with the feature which allows searching for a process on the internet, this has been brought over to let power users quickly research what processes are running on the computer.
To get statistics to help redesign task manager, Microsoft combined information from the Windows Feedback Process, research lab observation and customer interviews. Haveson said the task manager was “a unique opportunity for user experience designers and researchers working together with technical program managers and engineers to create a clean, organized, and efficient design.”