A lot has changed with the release of Windows 8. The new interface is stealing all of the buzz, but there is a lot more going on in this new operating system than fancy tiles and the new Start screen. Case in point, the new Task Manager. The basic tool included with every version of Windows since way back has gotten a facelift. It's got a bunch of new tabs that offer a ton of information that will appeal to everyone from a power user diagnosing system problems to a novice trying to find the Internet.
1. It's Easy to Launch, both on the Desktop & the Tablet
Finding your way to the Task Manager has never been easier. All of the old methods still work including right-clicking the taskbar on your desktop, hitting "Ctrl+Shift+Esc" and "Ctrl+Alt+Del", but Windows 8 adds even more. You can now use the admin menu or search from the Start screen. With so many options, you're sure to find one that works for you and your device of choice.
For a complete list of the many ways to launch this fine tool, check out this article: Introducing Windows 8: 8 Ways to Launch the Task Manager.
2. The Compact View Allows You to Switch Between Applications & Apps Without Effort
The first time you see the Compact View of the new Task Manager you won't likely be impressed. After all, it's just a small square that lists your running apps. No details, no info, just a list of names. While that may not be a system tech's idea of value, to a tablet user with a good mix of apps open, it provides a simple way to select any app and switch to it immediately. The details are all still there, you just have to click or tap "More details" to see them.
For a more details on how to make use of this Compact View, please read the following article: How to Use the Task Manager's Compact View to Manage Windows 8 Apps.
3. The New Processes Tab Adds a Ton of Useful Information
I know what you long-time Windows users are thinking: "The Processes tab has been around forever. what's so great about it?"
While a tab with the same name has indeed been around for as long as I can remember, the Processes tab in Windows 8 is not the same tab. Gone are the myriad data columns and tiny digits, this tab is much more dynamic and readable and provides information the old tab didn't include. You now have color maps that show you at a glance what processes are hogging resources, a tree view which shows you which processes are parents to which child processes and a much better layout that makes it much easier to determine how your resources are holding up. All of the old details are still around, they just moved to a new tab.
To learn more about the Processes tab in the new Task Manager, read this article: Monitor Resources & Kill Apps Using the Task Manager's Processes Tab.
4. You Can Customize Tabs to Decide What Data is Shown and How It's Displayed
Windows 8's Task Manager gives you a lot of control over the various tabs to ensure you get everything you need and nothing you don't want to see. You can select various columns to include alternate data points, change units of measurement for certain columns and even change how often the Task Manager updates its displayed data to find a good balance between performance and data accuracy.
For more info about customizing the Task Manager's tabs, please read this article: Change the Data Shown by Processes Tab in the Windows 8 Task Manager.
5. The Performance Tab Offers Useful Graphs to Monitor System Resource Usage
The older versions of the Task Manager had a couple of static graphs to show you CPU and memory usage, but they lacked detail and customization was non-existent. Windows 8 has changed that with the new Performance tab. You now have access to details graphs that cover CPU, Memory, Network and Disk usage along with a ton of data that is displayed with each.
You can even shrink down the Task Manager to display only the graph you need so you can monitor a resource in real-time without sacrificing a ton of screen real-estate.
To see more of what the Performance tab has to offer, check out this article: How to Monitor System Resources in Windows 8 Using the Task Manager.
6. The New Task Manager Helps You Keep on Top of the New Windows 8 Apps
Windows 8's new apps are an exciting feature of the operating system, but they can get you into trouble if you aren't careful. If you spend a lot of time on a Windows 8 mobile device such as a tablet or phone, you can easily waste away your data allotment streaming from Netflix or waste away your battery with games. Luckily, the App History tab gives you all the information you need to keep track of which apps use what resources. Check it often to figure out which apps to go easy on.
To see more of the features offered by the App History tab, read this article: The Windows 8 Task Manager - Which Apps Use the Most Resources?.
7. You Can Monitor Startup Applications Using the New Task Manager
Perhaps the greatest of the new features offered by the Windows 8 Task Manager is the ability to monitor your list of startups. The Startup tab shows you a list of all applications set to run when your computer boots and gives you an idea of how much of an impact each has on your startup time. If you find an app that has a large impact that you don't need, you can easily disable it to keep it from running automatically.
To learn more about managing your startups with the Windows 8 Task Manager, read this article: How to Manage Startup Applications with the Windows 8 Task Manager.
8. You Can Monitor All Signed in User Accounts Using the Users Tab
Having too many accounts signed in on one computer can waste resources and lead to poor performance. If you want to see for yourself, take a look at the Users tab of the Windows 8 Task Manager. This useful tab lets you see which users are left signed in and which applications are currently running in their session. You can see how much of your resources are being eaten up by offline users, log them out or send them a message right from the Task Manager.
For a full rundown of the features offered on the Users tab, check out this article: How to Manage Signed In User Accounts with the Windows 8 Task Manager.
9. The Details Tab Offers More Information Than you Could Ever Need
Power users are likely well acquainted with the huge amount of data formerly available in the Processes tab of older versions of the Task Manager. Such users may be a bit disappointed or even annoyed when they head to the new Processes tab and find that all the detailed data points are missing. If you're one of these users, don't worry, all of the data you're missing and a whole lot more is waiting for you in the Details tab.
Take a look at the list of available columns for this tab and you'll find nearly 40 data points you can add or drop for a hyper detailed real-time view of what your processes are doing. On top of that you can now link certain apps to specific cores of your processor, change the running priority of your processes and kill processes on by on or a whole tree at a time.
For more details about the Details tab, read this article: How to View & Manage Running Processes With the Windows 8 Task Manager.
10. Quickly View & Manage Services Without Having to Open the Control Panel
Want to know what services are running on your system? Want to enable or disable a service to save on system resource usage? You'll need to head to the Control Panel or Computer Management Console, right? Not anymore!
The Windows 8 Task Manager has a whole tab devoted to simple service management. If you want to get into more detailed management it even provides a direct link to the appropriate page in the Control Panel.
To see what the Services tab has to offer, check out my article on the subject: How to Manage Services Using the Windows 8 Task Manager.
As you can see, there's a lot going on. The new tabs give you a ton more information and a significant amount of control over the system. You can now monitor resources, manage startups and kill services and processes right from a single tool. It's sleek new look is more intuitive for the uninitiated but the wealth of knowledge is enough to keep even the techs happy. Make sure to give the Task Manager a look on your Windows 8 device, it's worth the time. For more great features of Windows 8, check the articles recommended below.