Windows Management Instrumentation overview

Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) is the Microsoft implementation of WBEM, an industry initiative to establish standards for accessing and sharing management information over an enterprise network. WMI is WBEM-compliant and provides integrated support for the Common Information Model (CIM) - the data model that describes the objects that exist in a management environment.

WMI includes a CIM-compliant object repository, which is the database of object definitions, and the CIM Object Manager, which handles the collection and manipulation of objects in the repository and gathers information from WMI providers. WMI providers act as intermediaries between WMI and components of the operating system, applications, and other systems. For example, the registry provider draws information from the registry, while the SNMP provider provides data and events from SNMP devices. Providers provide information about their components, and might provide methods to manipulate the components, properties that can be set, or events that can alert you to changes in the components.

WMI can be used by computer management tools, such as Microsoft Systems Management Server, to help you manage your computers. WMI is also used by other Microsoft technologies and tools, such as Microsoft Health Monitor and Microsoft Operations Manager, and by other vendors of computer management systems. You can use WMI with programming or scripting systems (such as Windows Script Host) to retrieve configuration details about most aspects of your computer systems, including server applications, or to affect changes to your systems - see the WMI SDK for more details.

Several management tools are WMI-enabled, including System Properties, System Information, and the Dependencies component of Services. These components are briefly described below:

  • System Properties lets you view and change system properties on a local or remote computer. You can restart a remote computer to apply settings changes or to detect new hardware, view the computer name and domain information for other computers on your network, or change the settings for the virtual memory paging file on a computer that might run programs requiring a lot of memory. For more information about System Properties, see Using System Properties

  • System Information collects and displays configuration information about your system. This is is especially useful when troubleshooting your system with a support technician. For more information, see Using System Information

  • Services helps you manage the services on your computer. Services dependencies identify the services upon which the current service is dependent and the services that are dependent upon it. For more information about Services, see Using Services

For technical information about developing for the WMI system, see the WMI Software Development Kit (SDK). The WMI SDK is released by Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) as part of the Microsoft Platform SDK.