Task Manager! Not exactly a nerve-stimulating tech term. In fact, it's a pretty dreaded area—the window you poke around in when your PC's in crisis. Part of the headache is poor design. Not anymore. Windows 8's looks stellar.

Microsoft has stripped away all the insane, obscure bullshit. No more dizzying cascade of ASusUSAUDNHOST.exe. No more endless, unsorted processes. When you first open Windows 8's Task Manager, all you see is your open applications. The most immediate similarity is to OS X's force quit menu—and it's a system that both looks good and makes sense. More often than not, what's clogging up your CPU is a frozen program that you need to kill, not some exotic .exe out of Hades.

But what if you do need to dig deeper? Sometimes those awful system processes need to be chewed through. No problem—click More Details, and you'll have them listed before you. But now it's not a pile of file vomit. Microsoft's not only grouped associated processes together, but given them "friendly" names that actually give you a clue of what their function is. Not just a string of characters. If you need more information, only a click will separate you from a web search of any given process.

Coolest of all, perhaps? Heat maps! The applications, windows, and processes that are eating up the most of your computer's power glow hottest, allowing you to visually lock on to problematic programs. And nuke them from orbit. Just more proof that Microsoft gives a giant damn about design more than ever. [MSDN Blog]

Update: We fixed our video glitch—the correct one should be playing now. Sorry everyone.