Entries in Windows 8 (2)

Thursday
Sep132012

Windows 8 Pro RTM Review-Part 1

The official release date for Windows 8 is October 26th. This much anticipated release will come in several variations, including an RT version for tablets. This initial review will concentrate on the business PC version: Windows 8 Pro RTM. Being Microsoft certified made me privy to an early copy of this final release which I have been running for the last few weeks on my Dell XPS 15 laptop. I thought I would share my findings for anyone looking for more information before buying.

Within the IT community, the questions regarding Windows 8 are typically Is it faster? and Is it stable? To both those questions I reply with a resounding and comforting YES.  I noticed a significant improvement in boot-up time, and it never crashed or locked-up once during my weeks of testing. However the business community will be a completely different can of worms. Aside from the performance improvements, I think the new “metro” user interface will make the learning curve a little too high for mass adoption. It will be interesting to see whether it is embraced or not. But for now, let’s look at some of the new design improvements that I think everyone will appreciate.

The new Task Manager is loaded with important information and diagnostics making it easier for both users and administrators to resolve PC issues. For me this is one of Microsoft’s best improvements in Windows 8, and with so many new features to cover it is the main focus of this post.

Starting with the Processes tab you will notice items are now grouped by applications, background processes, and windows processes.  This separation makes it much easier to identify applications that are running fine, and background processes that need to be looked at more closely. (Pic1)

You will also notice friendlier process names which help to speed up identification. But if you still find yourself scratching your head on what a process is used for—just right-click, select ‘Search the Web’ and watch your search engine open to display results for that process. (Pic2)

Within the Processes tab there is now a dynamic new heat map function. By utilizing color coding, different values are highlighted rather than relying on the old method of sorting columns. When looking at each resource column you can quickly find changes without having to sort a long list of items. (Pic3)

The last improvement to the Processes tab is in the level of detail provided, again assisting in troubleshooting. This is particularly useful when looking at the Service Host.  There use to be a lot more work and time involved in finding out what each PID was; now they dropdown as a subgroup within the Service Host displaying their new ‘friendly name’. (Pic4)

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The next design improvement within Task Manager is in the Performance tab which now shares a lot more information. For example, the network/WiFi now includes your current IP address—but it doesn’t end there, it also shows what access point you are using and corresponding signal strength. (Pic5) Other new features include viewing details of your page file under Memory, and viewing charts of each logical CPU core. (Pic6)

The App History tab only provides metro apps data, but this includes historical measurements of total CPU time, network usage, and the data being used by each ‘live’ app tile. (Pic7)

The Startup tab is a completely new feature in Task Manager.  You can now view each program run at startup, the impact it has, and the ability to enable/disable the program from the startup process.  This tab is a welcome addition and makes it much easier to troubleshoot long startup times. (Pic8)

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In the remaining three tabs within Task Manager there are a few more improvements worth noting:

  • The User tab now groups resources by each logged-in user making it easier to end processes on resource hogging apps.
  • The Details tab is just a more detailed version of the processes tab listing the process name, PID and the resources being used by each user account.  However, what is different is you can now set the priority of the process within this tab.
  • The Services tab offers a convenient interface for administrators to start and/or restart services from rather than opening services.msc.

In the next edition of Windows 8 Pro RTM Review we will look at >>> Windows Explorer, File History, Refresh Windows and Remove Windows.

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