Pviewer Overview

Updated: March 28, 2003

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Pviewer.exe: Process Viewer

This GUI tool displays information about a running process and allows you to stop processes and change process priority.


  • Process Viewer is similar to Pview.exe, but it can view processes on remote computers.

Corresponding UI

Process Viewer provides its own user interface.


A process is a running instance of an application or executable file, along with all the system resources that have been allocated to that instance. In general, a process is equivalent to a single application or service; for example, Microsoft Word runs in the Winword.exe process.

Each process is composed of a set of threads. A thread is a unit of work that runs simultaneously with other units of work on the computer; each process must have at least one thread.

Threads represent the basic unit of execution in Windows Server 2003. When a thread starts, the Windows Server 2003 Memory Manager allocates enough physical memory and page file space to allow the thread to run. While a thread is running, it can request additional memory to enable it to complete its task. When a thread ends, it releases the memory it was using back to the Memory Manager for reallocation.

Memory is also allocated based on the number of threads spawned by each process. For example, consider a computer running two processes. Process A has 5 threads and Process B has 15 threads. Assuming the two processes have equal priority, Process A is allocated 25 percent (5 / 20) of the memory being used and Process B is allocated 75 percent (15 / 20) of the memory being used.

This method of thread allocation helps ensure that applications receive the memory they need. However, this same method can also result in memory leaks. A memory leak occurs when an application receives an increasing amount of memory but does not relinquish that memory back to the Memory Manager. This typically happens when a process creates threads but does not destroy those threads when they have finished their work.

System Requirements

The following are the system requirements for Process Viewer:

  • Windows XP Professional or Windows Server 2003

File required

  • Pviewer.exe

See Also

Community Additions