The Windows NT Task Manager is almost identical to the 16-bit Windows
3.1 Task Manager. The Windows NT Task Manager user interface has one
new feature, a New Task field that allows you to start an application.
However, several changes were made to the internal workings of the
In 16-bit Windows 3.1, Task Manager has a dynamic window. Each time
you call Task Manager by pressing CTRL+ESC, it enumerates the
applications running and creates the Task Manager Window. In Windows
NT, Task Manager has a static window. This change is designed to
guarantee that Task Manager is always available, even when the system
is under heavy load. It also ensures that Task Manager processes any
keys you type ahead. If Task Manager did not create its window
immediately, it could lose keystrokes and cripple the functionality
provided 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 a
separate process. It runs as a thread in the Program Manager process.
This change affects users that want to replace Task Manager or Program
Manager because the two applications are intimately related. In 16-bit
Windows 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 separate
application. To do so, prepend the value "taskman," (without the
quotation marks) to the value of the following subkey in the Registry:
Doing so instructs Winlogon to execute Task Manager as a separate
process 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
If you add Task Manager to this registry subkey value, you can replace
the Program Manager with another shell program without replacing the
Task Manager. A separate Task Manager process remains even when you
replace Program Manager.