Monday, October 10, 2016

Windows 10 Doing Away With Bundling Service Host

Windows 10 Host
After announcing the new Windows 10, Microsoft rolled out a substantial update which features some serious tweaks to background processes and the death of a beloved icon.

That's right, the old Windows Update icon is no more. Microsoft has officially axed the venerable box-with-swirly-thing icon, in favor of a more streamlined sideways isosceles trapezoid, with a couple arrows inside.

The big news is actually behind the scenes. In the latest Windows Insider build, Windows 10 will handle background processes in a fundamentally different way than previous versions of Windows. Microsoft stated in a blog post that the change is meant to enhance performance for higher-end systems.

"If your PC has 3.5+ GB of memory, you may notice an increased number of processes in Task Manager. While this change may look concerning at first glance, many will be excited to find out the motivation behind this change," wrote Microsoft engineer, Dona Sarkar in a blog last 8 October.

Back when PCs had a lot less RAM available, Windows started bundling processes into service hosts. It was that little guy in the process list that always seems to be taking up more than its fair share of memory, the svchost.exe. Microsoft is now giving it the boot on systems with more than 3.5 GB of RAM.

"Because of the dramatic increase in available memory over the years, the memory-saving advantage of service hosts has diminished," Sarkar continued.

Since everyone now have a lot more memory than they used to, this latest Insider build is doing away with service hosts and breaking things down into individual processes, in hopes of increasing PC’s overall reliability. By separating things out, PC’s background processes will be less reliant on one another. When they were bundled into service hosts, if one went down, it dragged down a lot of other unrelated processes.

Also, keeping processes separate makes them easier to troubleshoot and reduces security vulnerabilities by keeping everyone in their own lane. Naturally, critical system services will remain grouped.

It's definitely a welcome change, and one of the more substantial changes to come out of the Windows Insider Fast Ring in the last couple weeks. The rest of the changes in this most recent build are the usual bundle of bug fixes and minor tweaks, which anybody can check out here on the Microsoft blog.

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