The smartphone-like standby mode in some Windows 8 devices will not only apply to Metro apps, but traditional desktop programs, too.
Microsoft has revealed more details about its next generation OS, detailing how applications will be suspended in order to extend battery life.
“For Windows 8, we started off with a rule that would apply to the large majority of Metro style apps: if an app is not on screen, and the screen is not on, it should not impact your battery life,” said program managers Sharif Farag and Ben Srour in a post on the Building Windows 8 blog.
That essentially means Metro Style apps will be suspended when in the background, unless running a “background activity” such as playing music or checking for email. “When you switch to a suspended app, it resumes instantaneously and takes you back to where you left off,” the pair wrote.
Devices based on system on a chip architectures will run more like smartphones – they’ll rarely be turned off, but continue to be updated with email and other messages while in standby.
“Typically based on ‘system on a chip’ (SoC) architectures, these PCs are interesting because instead of turning off during periods of inactivity they go into a very low power state while still running,” the blog post said. “This new state is referred to as ‘connected standby’.”
That allows email to continue updating in the background, for example, while helping extend battery life.
Microsoft is making both Metro apps and traditional desktop apps work in connected standby, the latter of which presented “a tougher challenge because they have been designed over the years to expect either full access to system resources (when running in the fore or background) or no access (when the PC is asleep).”
As a solution, Windows 8 will feature a “desktop activity moderator” for devices that allow the “connected standby” mode, to help manage desktop apps by putting them into sleep mode. “From the applications’ perspective, it will appear as if the PC has simply been put to sleep,” the engineers said. “When the PC is woken form connected standby, the app will resume as if the PC has been woken from a sleep state.”
Background features, such as music, some drivers, third-party services and messaging functions won’t be put to sleep, while some, such as antivirus, will be allowed to run for short bursts when necessary.
And, as Mary Jo Foley points out on ZDNet, that suggests ARM-based devices will support both Metro apps as well as traditional desktop apps.
However, Intel also has its own SoC in the form of Medfield, so Microsoft could simply be referencing that system – indeed, Windows chief Steven Sinofsky’s introduction for the blog post specifically name-dropped hardware running Intel’s SoC.