it is required to run a programm in the background under windows and continue executing php-script (i.e. the command exec (shell_exec, etc) should not wait for the program to finish). alternatively, it would be ok to run the program in the background and redirect its output to the browser. currently, the webpage keeps loading for 30 sec. and then shows a "maximum execution time exceeded" error.

I tried:

exec("program.exe");
exec("program.exe >null");
exec("cmd.exe /c program.exe");

shell_exec("program.exe");
shell_exec("program.exe >null");
shell_exec("cmd.exe /c program.exe");

passthru("program.exe");

but non of the above helps