Windows 8 : Monitoring, optimizing, and troubleshooting system health and performance (part 2) - App history, Startup, Services

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App history

App history is a new concept in Windows 8 and was introduced to provide administrators with insight into how Windows 8 native applications are running. The App History tab is shown in Figure 3.

The Windows 8 Task Manager App History tab

Figure 3. The Windows 8 Task Manager App History tab

For each Windows 8 native app, Windows captures four data points:

  • CPU Time Displays the amount of processor time this app or group of apps has consumed since the date at the top of the window and for the current user account.

  • Network Displays the total amount of network traffic that has been generated by this app.

  • Metered Network Displays the amount of data that has been transmitted over a network connection if the app has had to consume resources using a metered network.

  • Tile Updates Displays the amount of bandwidth needed to perform tile updates. As you watch the Start screen in Windows 8, notice that the individual tiles change as new information comes in. Those updates require network bandwidth.

Switching to a Windows 8 Native app

While you’re using Task Manager, you can quickly switch to one of your Windows 8 native apps. To do so, complete the following steps:

  1. In Task Manager, identify the app you want to run.

  2. Press and hold or right-click the app.

  3. Choose Switch To.

Windows switches to that app.

Deleting app Usage History

The statistics you see on the App History tab reflect usage from a particular date. You might want to clear usage history periodically. For example, you might want to reset usage history on the same day that your monthly data plan from your cellular provider resets. By doing so, you can track the amount of metered data usage you’re experiencing more carefully and easily so that you don’t accidentally overrun your monthly data limit and incur significant charges.

Follow these steps to delete usage history:

  1. Start Task Manager.

  2. Switch to the App History tab.

  3. Tap or click Delete Usage History.

This process is immediate. Usage information is reset with no further prompts or warnings.


The Startup tab helps you optimize your system. It lists the various programs that are configured to start automatically when the system starts. The more programs on the list, the longer it takes the computer to become fully available to the user at start time.

In Figure 4, you can see the Startup tab. The impact column is the most important one here. Startup items that have a high impact are the slowest to load. To make your system start a bit faster, you can optimize the start process by selecting items in this window and then tapping or clicking the Disable button. Repeat the process for each startup service you want to disable.

The Windows 8 Task Manager Startup tab

Figure 4. The Windows 8 Task Manager Startup tab

Generally, it’s safe to disable startup items. Many items are installed in the startup area to make the associated program run faster when you use it. However, some items should not be disabled; these include services that help the system operate fully. In Figure 4, you saw that the sample computer was running the VMware Tools Core Service. This is a startup item that would not be disabled because the system depends on this service.

Disabling items at startup helps the computer start faster. You just need to be careful about what you choose to disable.



The Startup tab is a new addition to Windows 8 that helps you keep your system optimized. However, an earlier tool remains in Windows 8 that can help you configure startup items.


The Users tab is similar to the Processes tab. It displays almost identical information, but it does so on a per-user basis, so you can view all the processes that are associated with a particular user. It’s just another way to view what is happening on a Windows 8 PC.

As is possible from the other tabs, you can press and hold or right-click any of the listed processes to manage that process, which includes ending the process and opening its Properties page.


If you’ve managed previous versions of Windows and used Task Manager in those versions, the Details tab (Figure 5) will be familiar to you. This tab displays information similar to the Processes tab but does so in a more advanced way and provides some additional context about the process.

The Windows 8 Task Manager Details tab

Figure 5. The Windows 8 Task Manager Details tab

The Details tab exposes significant functionality that enables administrators to exert good control over processes on the computer. As was possible from the Processes window, you can end tasks from this tab, but you can also do much more.

Ensuring Licensing Compliance Through Affinity Settings

Some software titles, including those designed for desktop systems, carry with them strict per-processor or per-core licensing terms. That is, when you buy the license for the software, that license is tied to a particular physical processor.

By default, when Windows runs a program, it doesn’t care which processor runs it. It just assigns the program to the first available processor. By using the Details tab, you can change this behavior.

To change application affinity settings, complete the following steps:

  1. Start Task Manager.

  2. Open the Details tab.

  3. Press and hold or right-click the application.

  4. From the shortcut menu, choose Set Affinity.

  5. When the Processor Affinity window opens, choose which processor should be responsible for running the program.

  6. Tap or click OK.


Just about every task in Windows depends on a service of some kind. The Windows 8 Task Manager Services tab is shown in Figure 6. A service is an executable program that performs a very specific function on the Windows-based computer. In general, services are applications that do not require any user intervention and operate silently in the background, performing critical functions upon which running applications rely.

The Windows 8 Task Manager Services tab

Figure 6. The Windows 8 Task Manager Services tab

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  •  Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista : Using Event Logging for Troubleshooting (part 1) - Group Policy Operational Log
  •  Windows 8 : Managing Windows Update (part 4) - Viewing update history, Rolling back updates
  •  Windows 8 : Managing Windows Update (part 3) - Managing Windows Update in Windows 8 native interface
  •  Windows 8 : Managing Windows Update (part 2) - Configuring update settings
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