It started happening soon after I got my Surface. I started noticing that it would slow down considerably. I began rebooting it just to get it back to its happy, snappy state. I decided to dig a little deeper. Because WinRT is, basically, Window 8 compiled for the ARM processor, I can use familiar Windows tools, like Task Manager to look under the hood.
I sorted by Memory in descending order like this:
and noticed that the top offender was a process called “Runtime Broker”. I started a thread about this on the forums and soon learned that the Runtime Broker process is responsible for ensuring that the new Windows Store Apps behave. But there was no explanation as to why its memory consumption grows over time. Someone mentioned that a misbehaving app can cause the Runtime Broker process to bloat, but there was no indication as to which app that was.
Recently, my thread was updated with a more detailed information. Apparently, one of the early-released clock apps has a bug which causes Runtime Broker to grow in size like that, and it does not only affect Surface, it affects any Windows 8 PC running the rogue clock app.
So uninstalling the app worked. My Broker Manager never grows beyond its normal memory size of under 10MB and Surface runs well. But can we really blame the App Developer for this? The answer is a definite No. AFAIK a good operating system isolates processes in such a way that one process cannot cause others to suffer. But this is exactly what’s happening here. I am not sure whether Microsoft knew about this problem before they released Windows 8, but if they did, they should have been a lot more vigilant in their App approval process in order to block any such rogue app from making it into the Windows Store. This is a serious FAIL on Microsoft part. It shows that not only were they in a hurry to release Windows 8 and in haste missed a few critical issues, but they also were or are very lax in their app approval process, as they a aim for quantity, not quality of the app. This is not going to help them in the long run. I hope they adjust their strategy, at least on the app approval part.
PS. I ended up in this situation because Windows 8 does not display a clock in it’s Modern Start menu, a normal main window when running Windows on a tablet. I referred to this as a major omission in my earlier blog. This is, IMHO, a big deal