Task Scheduler (
taskschd.msc) is a component of Microsoft Windows that provides the ability to schedule the launch of programs or scripts at pre-defined times or after specified time intervals. It was first introduced in the Windows 95 Plus! pack as System Agent but was renamed to Task Scheduler in Windows 98. The Windows Event Log service must be running before the Task Scheduler starts up.
Task Scheduler 1.0 is included with Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. It runs as a Windows Service, and the task definitions and schedules are stored in binary
.job files. Tasks are manipulated directly by manipulating the
.job files. Tasks can be added or deleted by using command-line tool AT or schtasks. Each task corresponds to single action. On Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows Me, the Task Scheduler runs as an application (mstask.exe). It also displays a status icon in the notification area on Windows 95 and Windows 98 and runs as a hidden service on Windows Me, but can be made to show a tray icon. On the Windows NT family of operating systems, it is implemented as a Windows service.Task Scheduler 1.0 exposes an API to programmatically create tasks. It is accessed via the
ITaskScheduler COM interface.
Task Scheduler 2.0 was introduced with Windows Vista and included in Windows Server 2008 as well. The redesigned Task Scheduler user interface is now based on Management Console. In addition to running tasks on scheduled times or specified intervals, Task Scheduler 2.0 also supports calendar and event-based triggers, such as starting a task when a particular event is logged to the event log, or when a combination of events has occurred. Also, several tasks that are triggered by the same event can be configured to run either simultaneously or in a pre-determined chained sequence of a series of actions, instead of having to create multiple scheduled tasks. Tasks can also be configured to run based on system status such as being idle for a pre-configured amount of time, on startup, logoff, or only during or for a specified time. XPath expressions can be used to filter events from the Windows Event Log. Tasks can also be delayed for a specified time after the triggering event has occurred, or repeat until some other event occurs. Actions that need to be done if a task fails can also be configured. The actions that can be taken in response to triggers, both event-based as well as time-based, not only include launching applications but also take a number of custom actions. Task Scheduler includes a number of actions built-in, spanning a number of applications; including send an e-mail, show a message box, or fire a COM handler when it is triggered. Custom actions can also be specified using the Task Scheduler API. Task Scheduler keeps a history log of all execution details of all the tasks. . Windows Vista uses Task Scheduler 2.0 to run various system-level tasks; consequently, the Task Scheduler service can no longer be disabled (except with a simple registry tweak).
Task Scheduler 2.0 exposes an API to programmatically create tasks. It is accessed via the
ITaskService COM interface. The Windows API does not, however, include a managed wrapper for Task Scheduler though an open source implementation exists. The Task Scheduler API is also exposed for scripting languages, including VBScript, JScript and Windows PowerShell. The job files for Task Scheduler 2.0 are XML-based, and are human-readable, conforming to the Task Scheduler Schema. Although possible, Microsoft advises not to create the job files by hand, and instead, use the Task Scheduler API. A command line utility for using Task Scheduler is also provided in terms of the
The Task Scheduler service works by managing Tasks; Task refers to the action (or actions) taken in response to trigger(s). A task is defined by associating a set of actions, which can include launching an application or taking some custom-defined action, to a set of triggers, which can either be time-based or event-based. In addition, a task also can contain metadata that defines how the actions will be executed, such as the security context the task will run in. Tasks are serialized to
.job files and are stored in the special folder titled Task Folder, organized in subdirectories. Programmatically, the task folder is accessed using the
ITaskFolder interface or the
TaskFolder scripting object and individual tasks using the
IRegisteredTask interface or
The Last Result column displays a completion code. The common codes for scheduled tasks are:
On Windows 2000 and Windows XP, tasks assigned to run with SYSTEM privileges do not function when the computer is prepared for disk imaging with
sysprep. Sysprep changes security identifier (SID) to avoid duplication but does not update scheduled tasks to use the new SID. Consequently, all SYSTEM scheduled tasks fail to run on the imaged computers. There is no solution for this problem but one may reschedule the tasks to work around the issue.
On Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008, where Service Pack 2 is not installed, repeating scheduled tasks may be repeated incorrectly and the next execution time displayed in Task Scheduler may be wrong. Microsoft does not elaborate how exactly wrong is this repetition, but a patch is available for this bug.
On Windows Vista, 7, 2008, and 2008 R2: The MMC Component says that you are running "Task Scheduler 1.0" when in fact you are running 2.0, this is a Trivial bug so it wasn't noticed, and is likely due to the re-write of the task scheduler. The Version has been corrected to 2.0 in Windows 8, and 2012
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