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WinTasks 4 Professional Review - Analysis

There are many utilities around that claim to "tweak" your PC for better performance. Hot on the heels of my PC Booster review, Leading Interactive Utilities (LIUtilities) was kind enough to invite me to review their "tweaking" product; WinTasks 4 Professional. Can this competing package stack up to the product from inKline Global? Come join Jon "Albinus" Albiez and let's find out!

| Utilities in Software | Posted: May 19, 2002 4:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 8.0%      Manufacturer: LIUtilities

In Depth Analysis

 

I must state for this review, I used the v4.05 patch, available from LIUtilities' support site. This fixes a few bugs such as hanging at the splash screen for an excessive amount of time. Here's a look at the main interface:

 

 

Once I saw this screen, I quickly realised that this product is targeted to a totally different market segment than PC Booster. Lists of services such as this can be overwhelming to the novice user, and dangerous to those who like clicking on everything they see (eg my Grandfather).

 

While it has been quite some time since I studied Windows processes, services and threads, I decided to probe WinTasks a little more to see what it was capable of. By default, WinTasks is loaded at system startup as a background service. This does increase boot time by a few seconds, but nothing that you will object to. The only indication that WinTasks is running comes courtesy of the system tray, which shows a little grey icon of an Integrated Circuit (IC):

 

 

Double-clicking on this icon opens the main screen as per the picture above. Right-clicking a service name gives you the option to stop it, or increase/decrease its priority. For those who are unaccustomed to priorities under WinNT/2000/XP, it simply lets programs be more or less "demanding" of resources. For instance, in the screenshot above, you will notice ud_1066573.exe has a "Low" priority. This is the UD Cancer Research program I run and it only consumes "spare" system resources. If I was running a Virus scan in the background, the scan would have a higher priority than the UD client. Do you get an idea of priorities now?

 

Other essential measurements such as CPU Usage, Memory Usage and the number of Threads an application is using are here as well. This can be used to see if a Trojan horse or Spyware program is running in the background, sapping your computer's resources.

 

Most of your activity will be based around the main screen, but there are a few sub-screens that I feel are important to point out. The first is the Autostart screen:

 

 

This lets you choose which programs are executed at startup (and aren't loaded via the Startup menu). For example, the first program in the list above is Norman Virus Control's (NVC) "Auto-protect" program. You can easily add, remove or enable autostarted programs here.

 

Next up is the Modules tab:

 

 

Bet you didn't think that there could be so many modules behind an innocent little program, eh? Cclaw.exe is NVC's macro virus scanner, and from the above screenshot you can clearly see which files are called by it at any time. While there aren't any options to do anything except print here, it still is very useful to find out what your programs are really doing behind the scenes.

 

The statistics tab is also interesting:

 

 

Just like task manager, you can see the history of both CPU and Memory usage from 1 minute to 24 hours ago. In the above shot, my CPU usage is fixed on 100% due to the UD client mentioned earlier. However, unlike Windows' Task Manager, the Memory Usage graph only displays physical memory usage, not the swap file. This gives a truer indication on how hard you are throttling your RAM.

 

Let's look at the Windows tab:

 

 

Some programs, such as Corel PhotoDraw, use multiple windows that are minimized on the taskbar. This is fine for one or two images, but what happens when you are working on two dozen images at once? The taskbar gets mighty hard to navigate. This is where WinTasks can help, by showing and hiding multiple windows at will. I still prefer Alt+Tab, but for some people this could truly be useful.

 

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