WMI Without Scripting (Well, Almost...)

Tuesday Jul 16th 2002 by ServerWatch Staff

In his latest article, Marcin Policht illustrates how to use the Windows Management Instrumentation Command Line Tool (WMIC) in process management. WMIC is designed to give you most of the power and flexibility associated with WMI in a more freiendly, non-scripted manner.

by Marcin Policht

Even though interest in automating administrative tasks via scripting grows steadily, it will still be a while before Windows Scripting Host, Active Directory Services Interface, or Windows Management Instrumentation become common items in administrative toolkits on par with standard Administrative Tools included in Windows 2000 or XP. Learning intricate object models used by ADSI or WMI is without doubt a challenging task, especially for those who lack prior programming or scripting experience. One of Microsoft's recent attempts in addressing this challenge is WMIC. This acronym stands for Windows Management Instrumentation Command Line Tool, which is a component available in Windows XP and the soon-to-be released Windows .NET server platform. WMIC offers a more friendly, non-scripted way of using Windows Management Instrumentation for managing computing environment.

Even without the need for scripting, WMIC is a bit of a challenge, since the documentation for it is, for the most part, limited and sometimes even inaccurate. In this article, I'll describe ways of using WMIC in process management. As you will find out, WMIC was designed to give you most of the power and flexibility associated with WMI.

Let's start with the basics. WMIC works in two modes - interactive and non-interactive. Interactive mode is initiated by running WMIC at the Command Prompt or from the Start->Run box. In either case, you are redirected to the wmic:root\cli> prompt ("root\cli" is the name of the WMI namespace where WMIC functionality has been implemented). Non-interactive mode involves prefixing each of the commands with the word WMIC, and can be run directly from the command prompt (which makes it a perfect candidate for batch files).

From either mode, you can type /? to find out the list of available global switches and aliases (which form commands you use to interact with Windows Management Interface objects).

Global switches

Global Switches are used to set the properties of the WMIC environment. For example, /NAMESPACE allows you to change the namespace you work with. (Namespaces are groupings of WMI classes, which in turn represent managed software and hardware objects, such as processes, services, installed applications, processors, memory, etc. Most of the time, you can use the default root/cimv2 namespace.) /USER and /PASSWORD allow you to set alternate credentials (other than the currently logged on user) for connecting to WMI. The /NODE switch is used to specify the computer (or computers) that will be the target of the WMI commands. To change the node you want to access, you would type from the command prompt
(remember to enclose the switch value in double quotes if the value contains special characters like '-' or '/').

The argument of the /NODE switch can be also a file containing the computer names (one name per line); e.g.

If you want to record the output of the commands you will be executing, you can use the /RECORD global switch. This is done by typing the following:

This option is especially useful since WMIC tends to generate a large amount of output. For example, the PROCESS LIST command, in its FULL format, lists the values of forty-one process properties (such as CommandLine, Description, ExecutablePath, ExecutionState, Handle, HandleCount, InstallDate, KernelModeTime, MaximumWorkingSetSize, MinimumWorkingSetSize, Name, PageFaults, PageFileUsage, ParentProcessId, PeakPageFileUsage, PeakVirtualSize, PeakWorkingSetSize, Priority, and ProcessId, just to mention the first few).

You can find out the current values of all global switches by typing CONTEXT from the wmic:root\cli> prompt) or WMIC CONTEXT from the Command Prompt.


Aliases represent managed objects and provide a more friendly way of accessing WMI classes. For example, Win32_Memory class is referenced by the MEMORY alias, Win32_Product class corresponds to the PRODUCT alias (which is used to manage Windows Installer packages), and the Win32_Process class can be accessed using the PROCESS alias. As you can see, names of classes can be easily matched with their equivalent aliases.

Since reviewing all available aliases is not feasible in one short article, I will focus on using WMIC in process management.

Listing processes

PROCESS LIST - allows you to enumerate processes on the target node

This command can be used with several parameters that will modify the format and content of the listing. The relevant ones (from a system administration point of view) would be BRIEF (limiting the display to a few relevant properties such as Name, Priority, ProcessID, and WorkingSetSize), IO (listing properties relating to Input/Output operations), MEMORY (presenting the impact of each process on memory statistics) and STATUS (the most succinct one providing only Name, ProcessID, and Status).

In addition, you can use the WHERE statement to further customize the display. For example, to display all instances of the Command Prompt on the target node, you could run:

In order to display processes which report highest WorkingSetSize (corresponding to the Memory Usage column in Task Manager), e.g. higher than 10 MB, you could run:
PROCESS WHERE (WorkingSetSize>10000000) LIST BRIEF

If you want to monitor these values over a longer period of time, you can use the /EVERY and /REPEAT switches. /EVERY sets the interval (in seconds) after which the list of processes is listed, while /REPEAT specifies the number of times that the interval is counted (and the current process statistics are displayed).

For example, the following command will display processes with WorkingSetSize above 10 MB 3 times in 5 second intervals:

If you don't want to limit number of intervals, you can simply omit the /REPEAT switch.

If none of the display formatting options that PROCESS LIST command offers suits your needs, you can also use PROCESS GET, which displays only the properties which you specify.

For example, the following command will display only Name, ProcessID, and WorkingSetSize for each process.
PROCESS GET Name,ProcessID,WorkingSetSize

Keep in mind that by using the /NODE switch, you can collect the process information from any number of computers.

Terminating processes

PROCESS DELETE - allows you to terminate processes.

For example, the following command will terminate EVERY instance of Notepad.exe running on the target node.
PROCESS WHERE (Name="notepad.exe") DELETE

If you want to affect only one particular instance, you should use ProcessID instead (which can be found by running the PROCESS LIST command). Assuming that the process instance has the ProcessID of 1824, you would next issue the command:

Creating processes

Even though the list of verbs available with PROCESS alias includes CREATE, it seems that either its implementation or the documentation about it is incorrect (PROCESS CREATE method produces an error message). However, since WMIC is really not much more than a friendly interface to WMI, in absence of a working WMIC method, we can turn to its less friendly WMI equivalent.

The following script allows you to invoke the Create method of the Win32_Process WMI class and, effectively, launch a process on a local or remote machine (specified by setting the value of sComputer variable). For the sake of simplicity, I omitted a few additional parameters that can be provided when creating a process (such as process priority or window type).

If you save the script as CreateProcess.vbs, then, for example, launching notepad.exe on the target computer called TestPC would require you to type the following at the Command Prompt:
cscript //nologo CreateProcess.vbs TestPC %windir%\system32\notepad.exe %temp%

Note that when launching a process on the local computer, you can simply type a dot (.) instead of the computer name.

Dim sComputer		'computer name
Dim sCmdLine		'command line of the process
Dim sCurDir		'working directory of the process
Dim oProcess		'object representing the Win32_Process class
Dim oMethod		'object representing the Create method

Dim oInPar		'object representing input parameters of the method
Dim oOutPar		'object representing output parameters of the method

sComputer 		= WScript.Arguments(0)
sCmdLine 		= WScript.Arguments(1)
sCurDir 		= WScript.Arguments(2)

Set oProcess 		= GetObject("winmgmts://" & sComputer & _
Set oMethod 		= oProcess.Methods_("Create")
Set oInPar 		= oMethod.inParameters.SpawnInstance_()
oInPar.CommandLine 	= sCmdLine
oInPar.CurrentDirectory = sCurDir
Set oOutPar 		= oProcess.ExecMethod_("Create", oInPar)

If oOutPar.ReturnValue 	= 0 Then
	WScript.Echo "Create process method completed successfully"
	WScript.Echo "New Process ID is " & oOutPar.ProcessId
	WScript.Echo "Create process method failed"
End If

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