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smss.exe

is the NT session manager subsystem responsible for starting the user session. The system thread starts this process and is responsible for various activities, including launching the winlogon and win32 [csrss.exe] processes and setting system variables.
Once launched these processes, smss.exe waits for either winlogon or csrss to end. If this happens normally the system shuts down; if it happens unexpectedly, smss.exe causes the system to stop responding (hang).
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