Windows 8 live tiles: performance & battery are MS priorities

Microsoft have gone to some length to detail their upcoming live tile functionality in Windows 8, and how the development team are aiming to deliver live tiles with as minimal impact to battery life as possible. Microsoft have some pretty demanding goals for their live tile service:

  • Allow hundreds of live tiles without degrading performance
  • Go beyond balloons, badges and text, with beautiful images
  • Make it easy for developers so they can just “fire and forget”
  • Achieve real-time delivery so delivering “instant messages” is instant

Due to these goals, Microsoft have aimed to have no app code running in the background to power the Start screen while still delivering live content, which should hopefully result in power savings and better performance for the system. This means that the Start screen will be data-driven rather than app driven.

The MSDN Building Windows 8 blog goes on to explain how developers can use predefined templates to achieve this, but this stuff isn’t very interesting unless you’re a developer; if you are, check out the post in full.

Further along, Microsoft mentions how they decided to use push for notifications rather than a polling system. Polling systems require the Start screen to check for things every so often, rather than having the content “pushed” to the device, which increases battery consumption and network data usage.

Microsoft explain that under their model, the back-end servers to apps will push content to the Windows Push Notification Service (WNS), which then beams down the info to your Windows 8 device. Images will be fetched directly from the back-end server, however.

To prevent malicious activity, Microsoft are adopting an “anonymous authentication mechanism” that creates unique responses between your Windows 8 machine and the WNS. This mechanism ties apps and live tile services together so that no other applications can interfere and maliciously update your tiles.

Finally, Microsoft have mentioned how they are going to scale the service to allow their servers to push notifications to every single Windows 8-powered device. They mentioned that even the Windows 8 Developer Preview is causing WNS to push a whopping 90 million notifications per day. Luckily though, Microsoft are relying on the Windows Live Messenger team to develop an appropriate scaling mechanism, as they already serve 10 billion Messenger notifications per day.

The Task Manager will also support viewing how many resources the live tiles for applications use. It looks like they don’t use that much, looking at the Microsoft-provided screenshot.

The result is a notifications platform that delivers at-a-glance information while allowing you to install as many apps as you want without worrying about the impact on performance or battery life.

Images courtesy of MSDN

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Performance, battery and changing entire user interface are MS priorities. They seem to be incapable of improving Windows without changing the UI.

xpclient said,
Performance, battery and changing entire user interface are MS priorities. They seem to be incapable of improving Windows without changing the UI.

WTF!

xpclient said,
Performance, battery and changing entire user interface are MS priorities. They seem to be incapable of improving Windows without changing the UI.

The most incorrect post on this thread maybe? Likely...

WP7 said,

The most incorrect post on this thread maybe? Likely...

What they're doing with push notifications infrastructure is great but the root issue remains: that the tile based UI is not suitable for millions of existing PCs which are not tablets. That's what I am talking about.

xpclient said,
Performance, battery and changing entire user interface are MS priorities. They seem to be incapable of improving Windows without changing the UI.

so ... improving performance and battery life is not improving Windows but is merely GUI work? I've always known you were very anti-ms, but now you are pushing towards lunacy

XerXis said,

so ... improving performance and battery life is not improving Windows but is merely GUI work? I've always known you were very anti-ms, but now you are pushing towards lunacy

I didn't say better performance and battery life are not improvements. But sadly they go hand in hand with the Metro GUI. They could have done the same improvements without the Metro GUI. Got it now? And no I'm not anti-MS.

xpclient said,

I didn't say better performance and battery life are not improvements. But sadly they go hand in hand with the Metro GUI. They could have done the same improvements without the Metro GUI. Got it now? And no I'm not anti-MS.

You quite obviously are. Over the years the look and feel of windows has changed at a glacial pace. You can still use windows 95 and know where pretty much everything is and that OS is over 15 years old. Also theyve barely changed the standard UI in windows. The live tiles are an addition, and one which you can turn off.

M4x1mus said,

You quite obviously are. Over the years the look and feel of windows has changed at a glacial pace. You can still use windows 95 and know where pretty much everything is and that OS is over 15 years old. Also theyve barely changed the standard UI in windows. The live tiles are an addition, and one which you can turn off.

+1. They've improved Windows for decades with little UI change. This is the first time they've ever done it and now they allegedly do it all the time... *sigh*

M_Lyons10 said,

+1. They've improved Windows for decades with little UI change. This is the first time they've ever done it and now they allegedly do it all the time... *sigh*

Now wait a minute. Quite obviously I am talking about Windows 8, not earlier versions here.

xpclient said,

Now wait a minute. Quite obviously I am talking about Windows 8, not earlier versions here.

You need to do your research before commenting. It's a START screen, not the main UI. If you don't like the tile-based screen or the metro apps on your existing PC then simply turn it off and use the regular desktop (which hasnt changed that much... still very similiar to Windows 7). They're not stupid... they wouldnt JUST put a tablet interface on a PC. That's the beauty of Windows 8.

j2006 said,

You need to do your research before commenting. It's a START screen, not the main UI. If you don't like the tile-based screen or the metro apps on your existing PC then simply turn it off and use the regular desktop (which hasnt changed that much... still very similiar to Windows 7). They're not stupid... they wouldnt JUST put a tablet interface on a PC. That's the beauty of Windows 8.

??? Did I say you couldn't turn it off? I said the push notification service should be brought to the desktop too.

xpclient said,

I didn't say better performance and battery life are not improvements. But sadly they go hand in hand with the Metro GUI. They could have done the same improvements without the Metro GUI. Got it now? And no I'm not anti-MS.

Of course they go hand in hand with the new Metro UI (<-no G)
The Metro UI is built upon the Windows Runtime.

The Windows Runtime is a new programming abstraction that turns a PC from a collection of APIs which a developer must composite into an application, relying on dependencies (dlls) and registry and other things which developers hate about windows into a collection of 'Features' offered by windows to enable developers to create rich immersive interactive experiences without having a rich understanding of complex OS constructs.

I'd much rather code a video app that allows me to pass in a stream and have it play on screen, than do all of the Win32 programming to create a video player today.

The Windows Runtime as introduced in windows 8 will enable rich full featured apps to be created at a speed never before seen in a desktop OS.

j2006 said,

You need to do your research before commenting. It's a START screen, not the main UI. If you don't like the tile-based screen or the metro apps on your existing PC then simply turn it off and use the regular desktop (which hasnt changed that much... still very similiar to Windows 7). They're not stupid... they wouldnt JUST put a tablet interface on a PC. That's the beauty of Windows 8.


There were still noticeable differences when turning off the tiles. But may I didn't know what I was doing with the tech preview. I had to uninstall the OS because it just wasn't ready. I can't wait to see a more polished version. I'm a fan of good Microsoft work. I personally thought that Vista was an excellent OS and Windows 7 was a freaking home run... so making Windows 8 usable should not be out of the realm of possibilities.

xpclient said,
Performance, battery and changing entire user interface are MS priorities. They seem to be incapable of improving Windows without changing the UI.

They have to mask the fact that the underlying OS is still extremely bloated lol. Changing the UI distracts people from that, so I suppose it works to some degree

Joey S said,

They have to mask the fact that the underlying OS is still extremely bloated lol. Changing the UI distracts people from that, so I suppose it works to some degree

How do you know the underlying OS is "extremely bloated"? Proof?

I'm just hoping they have another UI for Desktop Power\Gaming Users which is not Impossible at this stage. If not I'm going s8 back to Aero or whatever "Classic" UI they have. My two cents Metro is Great for Small Portable Devices that is it. If someone can show how Metro helps out Network Administration\IT\Power Users Etc Etc. Over the current UI post some "real world" benchmarks on youtube. Metro vs Aero. IMHO Metro is made for people that don't care what a CPU even means.

Billmaster said,
I'm just hoping they have another UI for Desktop Power\Gaming Users which is not Impossible at this stage. If not I'm going s8 back to Aero or whatever "Classic" UI they have. My two cents Metro is Great for Small Portable Devices that is it. If someone can show how Metro helps out Network Administration\IT\Power Users Etc Etc. Over the current UI post some "real world" benchmarks on youtube. Metro vs Aero. IMHO Metro is made for people that don't care what a CPU even means.

Dude, you dont have to use the metro UI. The only place that its mandatory is the start screen and even that can be turned off.

M4x1mus said,
Dude, you dont have to use the metro UI. The only place that its mandatory is the start screen and even that can be turned off.

And, I'll say it again, turning off Windows 8 Start screen in favor of 'classic ui' buys you nothing. You lose huge by disabling the feature.

The new start-screen is it's own mini-OS that runs on top of the classic desktop. The new app scenarios enabled by this new design paradigm will link data across disparate data sources at the client level for rich introspection and analysis without requiring huge bloated 'desktop apps' and runtimes.

If it helps, think of the New windows start experience as ChromeOS or Android (or iOS) running on TOP of the windows 7 you use today.
Windows 8 really IS two OS design paradigms mashed together into one OS
One is for connected apps that share information freely without dll hell and all the other 'legacy' or 'classic' desktop problems, the other is there for backward compatability.

Live tiles will be annoying. Just say your screen has over 100 lives popping up and displaying information towards you, won't you get sick of them? I will especially when I can't turn them off.

Live tiles good for some stuff but if you overdo it, it will be annoying.

Chica Ami said,
Live tiles will be annoying. Just say your screen has over 100 lives popping up and displaying information towards you, won't you get sick of them? I will especially when I can't turn them off.

Live tiles good for some stuff but if you overdo it, it will be annoying.

On Windows Phone 7 all live tiles have to be enabled. You are usually prompted when you first start the app. Good try tho.

wixostrix said,

On Windows Phone 7 all live tiles have to be enabled. You are usually prompted when you first start the app. Good try tho.

Many apps I have come across on my wp7 phone give the option of turning live tiles off

wixostrix said,

On Windows Phone 7 all live tiles have to be enabled. You are usually prompted when you first start the app. Good try tho.

You are not required to use notification in WP7 apps. They will accept and approve your submission with just an icon. It won't sell that well, though.

Chica Ami said,
Live tiles will be annoying. Just say your screen has over 100 lives popping up and displaying information towards you, won't you get sick of them?

No.
For one, live tiles are there to provide information. If the live tile for the app I'm using doesn't provide useful information, the usefulness of that app will be called into question.
Secondly, I'd love to know what resolution you plan on running at to see 100 live tiles at once.

Nice to see such a commitment to excellence in all areas from Microsoft. This used to not be the case until maybe 2-3 years ago. The new Task Manager is absolutely world class, nothing else out there can compare with it.

Edited by KingCrimson, Nov 3 2011, 4:55am :

KingCrimson said,
Nice to see such a commitment to excellence in all areas from Microsoft. This used to not be the case until maybe 2-3 years ago. The new Task Manager is absolutely world class, nothing else out there can compare with it.

Yeah, it's about time they revamped that too. I'm thrilled to see the changes honestly. It looks really great.

The thing that most people won't instantly realize is that because of this entirely new software stack, your system should feel much snappier because it's doing a lot less in the background. And hopefully we should get better battery life out of it.

dagamer34 said,
The thing that most people won't instantly realize is that because of this entirely new software stack, your system should feel much snappier because it's doing a lot less in the background. And hopefully we should get better battery life out of it.

The point is to exceed iOS in terms of energy efficiency on a tablet. That is a tall order for a FULL OS like Windows 8, but if MSFT can pull it off that will be considered an amazing feat of software engineering.

ccoltmanm said,
Very impressed with the lack of memory and CPU usage. Speed should be a priority when dealing with multiple devices.
Heck speed should be the priority on the Metro Interface

ccoltmanm said,
Very impressed with the lack of memory and CPU usage. Speed should be a priority when dealing with multiple devices.

Absolutely. I'm glad to see that as a priority too.