Foreground and Background Threads

A managed thread is either a background thread or a foreground thread. Background threads are identical to foreground threads with one exception: a background thread does not keep the managed execution environment running. Once all foreground threads have been stopped in a managed process (where the .exe file is a managed assembly), the system stops all background threads and shuts down. Here’s an example:

Example

class Test
{
    static void Main()
    {
        BackgroundTest shortTest = new BackgroundTest(10);
        Thread foregroundThread = 
            new Thread(new ThreadStart(shortTest.RunLoop));
        foregroundThread.Name = "ForegroundThread";

        BackgroundTest longTest = new BackgroundTest(50);
        Thread backgroundThread = 
            new Thread(new ThreadStart(longTest.RunLoop));
        backgroundThread.Name = "BackgroundThread";
        backgroundThread.IsBackground = true;

        foregroundThread.Start();
        backgroundThread.Start();
    }
}

class BackgroundTest
{
    int maxIterations;

    public BackgroundTest(int maxIterations)
    {
        this.maxIterations = maxIterations;
    }

    public void RunLoop()
    {
        String threadName = Thread.CurrentThread.Name;

        for(int i = 0; i < maxIterations; i++)
        {
            Console.WriteLine("{0} count: {1}", 
                threadName, i.ToString());
            Thread.Sleep(250);
        }
        Console.WriteLine("{0} finished counting.", threadName);
    }
}

The above code example contrasts the behavior of foreground and background threads. A foreground thread and a background thread are created. The foreground thread keeps the process running until it completes its while loop. After the foreground thread has finished, the process is terminated before the background thread has completed its while loop.