Higher priority for apps

Is there a way to make applications start with a higher then usual priority automatically? I routinely run video encoding in the background which will eat up both the cores on my Opty 170. As expected, this makes certain things sluggish to use. But, I wanna make it so the applications that I actively use (Firefox, MSN, and AIM) have an above normal priority. Any solution to this or is this a no-no? Just wondering, if it's possible I'd love to do it.

Thanks!
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Configuration Video Encoding Apps Windows XP