I'm running in a controlled, xp, intranet only environment and I need to start external processes from a PHP applications. (Backups, Reports etc.)
I can get system or exec to start processes that work silently. Here's a simple example
<?php exec ("echo hello > hello.txt");?>
<?php exec ("explorer");?>
What behavior are you expecting? Calling
system('notepad') works fine - it just doesn't display the GUI. It runs in the background, and PHP sits there patiently waiting for notepad to close itself (and only continues if you kill notepad from the process list).
If you're expecting it to pop up a GUI, I'm fairly certain that you can't do that. ;) An option might be to write out a batch script (
file_put_contents('runme.bat', 'notepad hello.txt')) and have that batch script queued (with Windows scheduler or whatever the cron-equivalent is on Windows) to run in an async fashion (and clear itself at the end).