Wintasks 4 Professional

Task Manager cures some of that problem, letting you see roughly what's going on with your system, but it's not very helpful bar letting you ask programs if they wouldn't mind stopping as they're taking up too much memory or CPU time. Put yourself in Windows 98/ME and you have even less control. Face it, your PC does what it wants and you're just an outsider playing games on it.

Not with Wintasks 4 Professional. This piece of software from LIUtilities allows you complete control over what your PC is up to.

Wintasks 4 Pro is essentially a super Task Manager, with bells and whistles on. Here's a look at the impressive list of features touted on their web site:
Remove unnecessary processes instantaneously
Free up valuable memory and cpu resources
Create presets to optimize all common tasks
Use the built-in logs and statistics to eliminate resource leaks and other problems
Create custom scripts to automatically optimize the use of important resources
Inspect your application's cpu and memory usage in realtime to optimize memory and cpu usage
View up to 24 hours of cpu and memory usage statistics to find memory leakage and other bugs
View windows, modules and threads owned by your application
Terminate unwanted processes and clean up after a program crash without having to reboot the entire system
Create scripts to start or stop your own programs when a particular condition is meet. For example, you could stop a server automatically whenever the client is stopped
Find and kill unwanted backgroung processes like viruses and trojans
Use the process log to find out which processes have been executed on your computer
Create scripts to prevent a specific process from running
Save the current process configuration to a preset, allowing you to instantly restore that configuration and terminate all unwanted processes.
That's a pretty powerful set of features and certainly claims to give the control back to the user. It's compatiable with XP/2000/NT and 98, which covers the majority of Windows users.
Wintasks sits in your system tray, ironically using up about 10Mb of resources, waiting for you to pull it up to catch an erroneous task or poised to do something based on it's powerful scripting language, which we'll look at in a moment. Once called up for service, the main screen gives you plenty of things to look at (The images are clickable by the way).

It gives you the usual look at what's going on at the moment much like Task Manager, however it's much more indepth. We can see the priority of the process, which executable it is running (great for finding those irritating little things which pop up out of nowhere), and the time it was started. From this window you can change the priority of a task, kill it totally, rename it or take a look at the executable. Wintasks will also tell you those which can't be stopped, namely system processes.. under 2000/NT/XP it actually prevents you from doing this, however in 98 you can crash your PC to your hearts content.
A very useful feature is looking at processes which are started automatically.