A member of the Microsoft Discussion Groups posted the following question in the 'Vista account administration' sub forum, and I repeat it here, together with my reply.
"I can get Task Scheduler to display a message. However, if I am actually USING the pc when it is time for the reminder to activate then the message gets shunted to the back of the screen, and is "displayed" UNDERNEATH the open windows. In other words the reminder is NOT displayed, it's hidden, and doesn't remind anything. It is pretty damned useless like this (about as much as a chocolate teapot) and I can't find the option to display the message ON TOP of the other open windows (to be any good it should display on top by default).
Where is this option, or has this necessary action just been overlooked by microsoft?"
My reply (with illustrations for the tutorial):
"Try the following workaround.
Firstly, create a folder in the root of your system drive and name it 'UserTaskMessages'. Next, use 'Notepad' to create your message and save it in
this folder with a meaningful filename, for example 'Msg1'. Keep this folder open for reference purposes whilst you create your task.
Open 'Task scheduler'. In the left hand panel click to highlight 'Task Scheduler Library' and in the 'Actions' panel click 'Create Basic Task...'.
The 'Create Basic Task Wizard' opens on the 'Create a Basic Task' page. In the text box next to 'Name:', give your task a unique name, for example 'Test'. In the text box next to 'Description:' you can enter an optional description for your task, for example the filename of the desired message. Click 'Next >'.
The 'Task Trigger' page appears. Under 'When do you want the task to start?', click 'One time' and then click 'Next >'. This is for testing purposes.
The 'One Time' dialogue page appears. Add 2 or 3 minutes to the time shown and then click 'Next >'. Remember that this is for testing purposes - you can amend the schedule by following the instructions later on in this post.
The 'Action' dialogue page appears. Under 'What action do you want the task to perform?', you might think that the correct option is 'Display a message' but in fact the correct one is 'Start a program' (default). Click 'Next >'.
The 'Start a Program' dialogue appears. Here you can enter the required parameters as follows. In the text box under 'Program/script:' enter
'C:\Windows\System32\notepad.exe'. In the text box next to 'Add arguments (optional):', enter the filename of the desired message that you created earlier. In the 'Start in (optional):' text box, enter the path to the folder you created earlier, in this case 'C:\UserTaskMessages'. Click 'Next >'.
The 'Summary' page appears. Here you can review the information that you entered. If you wish to change anything, you can click '< Back' to go back to the relevant page to amend it. When you are happy with the settings, you can click 'Finish' on this page.
The task will execute at the set time and the message will appear on top of any other open windows. Once you are satisfied that the task works, you can amend the schedule so that it executes at the desired time.
To do this, right click on the task and select 'Properties'. The properties page for the task will open in the 'General' tab. If you want the task to execute for all users, regardless of whether the task creator is logged in or not, click to select 'Run whether user is logged on or not' in the 'General' tab of the properties page.
Click on the 'Triggers' tab, highlight the current trigger and then click 'Edit...'.
The 'Edit Trigger' dialogue will open. Here you can amend the schedule for your task. Click 'OK' twice to close the properties dialogues and then close the 'Task Scheduler' and the 'UserTaskMessages' folder.
Your task will execute according to your set schedule, and the message will appear on top of any other open windows.
Apologies for the length of this post, but I wanted to make it as clear as possible for you."
You can, if you wish, export a task and save it as a file so that it saves you time should you have to reinstall Vista for any reason and need the task. To do this, highlight the task and select 'Export...' from the 'Actions' panel. Choose an appropriate location and filename. To restore the task, click 'Import Task...' from the 'Actions' panel. Browse to the required location and then click on the task to be imported. The task will be imported into the 'Task Scheduler' and the properties page for the task will open in the 'General' tab as shown earlier. You can either click 'OK' now or amend the settings. Either way, once you have finished, the task will appear in the scheduler.
For those interested in the format of a task, the following illustrates the above example. This takes the format of an XML file, and those who are fluent in XML should be able to create tasks this way, although the 'Create Basic Task Wizard' is much simpler.