Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system will deliver a smartphone-like power management scheme in order to deliver improvements in energy consumption for both PCs and tablets for Metro-style apps.
In a new post on the Building Windows 8 blog, Microsoft detailed how Windows 8 will apply stricter scheduling policies to applications to ensure they are not using system resources and therefore consuming power, unless absolutely necessary.
Meanwhile, Windows 8 also introduces a new power state called "connected standby" that will enable devices with a system-on-a-chip (SoC) processor architecture to continue to run low-intensity background processes such as checking for new emails or instant message updates.
For new Metro-style apps, Windows 8 will operate in the same way as you would expect on other battery-operated devices like a smartphone, according to Sharif Farag and Ben Srour, lead programme managers for Microsoft's fundamentals and user experience teams.
"If an app is not on screen, and the screen is not on, it should not impact your battery life," they wrote in the blog.
In other words, applications are not suspended whenever they are not actively being operated by the user, but are merely "frozen", so they instantly carry on exactly where they left off when the user switches back to them.
This means that applications will be in one of three states: actively running in the foreground, suspended in the background, or performing some defined background activity.
In order to minimise energy use, Microsoft said it is introducing special APIs for these background processing tasks in its new WinRT programming model for Windows 8.
These cover specific scenarios such as playing music, uploading or downloading files from the internet, VoIP calls, keeping live tiles updated, and synchronising content with a connected device.
However, these background processing APIs only apply to Metro-style applications, and only on SoCs that support the "connected standby" power state.
Existing Win32 applications (now called desktop apps) typically get suspended as normal.
"Applications that were designed for Windows 7 will continue to work as they have before with no change in behaviour, and new Metro style apps can be developed to enable new connected experiences that work in a more power-efficient manner," Farag and Srour wrote.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is now expected to unveil the next pre-release version of Windows 8 at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona on 29 February.
Officially named as the "Windows 8 Consumer Preview", this will effectively be the first public beta for the future operating system.
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