How Windows NT, 16-Bit Windows 3.1 Task Managers Differ

This article was previously published under Q101659
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The Windows NT Task Manager is almost identical to the 16-bit Windows3.1 Task Manager. The Windows NT Task Manager user interface has onenew feature, a New Task field that allows you to start an application.However, several changes were made to the internal workings of theTask Manager.

In 16-bit Windows 3.1, Task Manager has a dynamic window. Each timeyou call Task Manager by pressing CTRL+ESC, it enumerates theapplications running and creates the Task Manager Window. In WindowsNT, Task Manager has a static window. This change is designed toguarantee that Task Manager is always available, even when the systemis under heavy load. It also ensures that Task Manager processes anykeys you type ahead. If Task Manager did not create its windowimmediately, it could lose keystrokes and cripple the functionalityprovided by the New Task field.

To optimize Windows NT and reduce the amount of system resources used(such as space in the paging file), Windows NT Task Manager is not aseparate process. It runs as a thread in the Program Manager process.This change affects users that want to replace Task Manager or ProgramManager because the two applications are intimately related. In 16-bitWindows 3.1, you can replace Task Manager with a custom program;Windows NT starts the Task Manager thread when Program Manager starts.It is possible to replace Task Manager by making it a separateapplication. To do so, prepend the value "taskman," (without thequotation marks) to the value of the following subkey in the Registry:
   HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT   \Current Version\Winlogon\Shell
Doing so instructs Winlogon to execute Task Manager as a separateprocess outside Program Manager.

NOTE: The Task Manager replacement program must register and process the CTRL+ESC key sequence. When Task Manager is a dynamic window, the corresponding processing in Windows Server (WINSRV) is disabled. Also note that if the same CTRL+ESC key sequence is used, the "taskman" string must appear before Program Manager in the Registry, otherwise the task list thread in Program Manager registers the key sequence and the separate Task Manager process cannot. If you use another Task Manager-like application that is activated with a different key sequence, the registration order is not important.

If you add Task Manager to this registry subkey value, you can replacethe Program Manager with another shell program without replacing theTask Manager. A separate Task Manager process remains even when youreplace Program Manager.

Article ID: 101659 - Last Review: 10/22/2013 20:28:01 - Revision: 2.1

  • Microsoft Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1
  • kbnosurvey kbarchive KB101659