References about MS Windows stuff running in background

I’m learning how to programe somewhat time-critical things in the Microsoft Windows environment, and hear that it can be very importnat to track down the stuff Windows has running in the background, because it can tie up the processor for too-long periods. Especially for instance disk drive and network accesses (that weren’t requested by the program I write).

Is there a good reference about this? A book, or a web site? I don’t even know how to get a list of what’s going on, except maybe the Task Manager.

If you’re using 95, try running msinfo. Or use msinfo32 for 98, ME or XP.

Under “Software Environment”, it lists “Running Tasks”.