Windows 8 - Power Efficiency

Windows 8 improved for power efficiency on apps ‘focus on the foreground’

Since the beginning, when we first started seeing computer that were designed for portability, power consumption has been one of the biggest issues for the hardware inside. Still today, power efficiency is one of the biggest topics when designing the next generation operating system to properly support different types of low-power CPUs. The goal has always been to optimize as much as possible the OS to provide the maximum battery life. This is something that Microsoft has struggled to pay attention, or a least until we start hearing about Windows 8.

No too long ago, Microsoft discussed the changes they were making to improve the battery life in Windows 8. Since then many other changes and improvements has been added to the upcoming version of the OS, regarding  power efficiency. In a new article at the Building Windows 8 Blog, Sharif Farag and Ben Srour are detailing how Windows 8 has improved power management to cut power consumption to the minimum, without affecting user experience. For example, live tiles in Windows 8 are designed to keep the user informed to what is happening inside of the app, minimizing wireless bandwidth consumption and radio time. This pretty much explains the new Windows 8′s focus : “In a world where 75% or more of the PCs sold are battery powered, programmers are, by definition, being asked to rethink how to get work done again.” – Sharif and Ben.

“Focus on the foreground” is to what Microsoft is paying attention now. The company thinks that foreground tasks should be the ones using most of the processing power. Apps that are not being used, in the background, should be suspended. This is different from what we are used to see today, in Windows 7 and previous version of the operating system which even minimized tasks will consume CPU cycles as much as foreground programs.

Task Manager - Windows 8

The software giant details that sending an app to the background when you walk away from it “the operating system suspends it. This means that the Windows scheduler (the component that schedules CPU access for processes and threads) does not include it in the CPU scheduling. Since the operating system is not scheduling the app, the app is not using the CPU, and it is possible for the CPU to drop into lower power states. Getting the CPU into low power states can be critical to achieving better battery life.”

The awesome thing about suspending an app is that they can be resumed really quick, getting back to what you were doing instantly and switching between apps become something super fast to do without affecting the power performance. You will no longer need to be worried about how many apps are running in your PC, live tiles will always keep you informed to what is going on inside apps — they always check that they are running. Like Android and iOS, Windows 8 will have the ability to close apps on demand when memory is required by other resources or apps in your system. Not to worry here! The operating system has been designed to save all the app states, that way if Windows is forced to close an app to free up resources, your work will still intact when you relaunch it again. 

Also for those times where apps misbehave, Microsoft is adding the ability to close Metro style apps in Windows 8 beta ‘Consumer Preview’.

Multitasking’s future:

One thing is obvious, that is common tasks that always need to run in the background, and Microsoft has designed Windows 8 to handle these situations. To keep providing rich capability and multitasking, while preserving resources, Windows 8 will enable the most common background tasks for Metro style apps:

  • Receiving voice call
  • Receiving email
  • Printing
  • Sharing content
  • Live tiles information
  • Syncing
  • Downloading or uploading files to a website
  • Playing music

To wrap up, it is worth to note that desktop applications will continue to operate the way they have always have. These new improvements are focus toward Metro style apps built using the new WinRT (Windows Runtime).

What are your thought about Windows 8? Leave your comments in the section below.

Source Building Windows 8 Blog

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