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Open batch file php [duplicate]

Before everyone starts butting in with "security risks" "cant be done" stop there and read the ENTIRE post

I have a web server set up from a home laptop which is serving as a games web server im trying to create a GUI so its easier for us to maintain the server and im trying to use batch files to do the actions on the computer

So to put this into perspective I have my index file index.php

And my startServer.bat will run on the laptop running the server and will do all the actions nesscary to start our game server so there is another directory "Instance" containing an excutable "Server.exe" which the batch file will run

The issue im having is running the web server and testing this it doesnt work if I open the batch file directly it works but it seems the php code doesnt work

For clarification I am using apache and my browser is chrome

And just a quick question for anyone willing to answer the route im going is correct right? Using php would allow everything to run on the machine hosting the server so the end user will only see the GUI and the server would run the batch files and everything on the web server and not the local machine if that makes sense?

EDIT: To be more clear about what's going on the function exec runs but it just hangs like the application is loading I need a solution that will actually open the application are my host computer for example if I wanted to open up notepad I press a button on the Web server and notepad will open on the computer

EDIT 2: I would like to note that I dont exactly need to use the exec function and I have tried all the answers to date 7/19/2017:3:45pm none are working if I do something on the sorts echo exec('start text.bat'); I will get a This is a test to show your batch is working and simply just have echo ..... in the batch file the main issue I am having is the server is not physically showing the opened file like displaying the GUI lets just take notepad for example

I can open notepad and get some return value as long as my batch file closes notepad once its finished running however the GUI for notepad is never displayed and thats very important

I read in a few articles about using apache as a service which im pretty sure I am but I do know that xaammp has suffiecient priveleges and I have checked the box that says "Allow apache to interact with desktop" however no GUI is popping up thats the main point I guess im trying to get across is I need to display the GUI not just open the file as a background service.

If it makes answering easier I am open to switching programming languages if theres one that can do what I want easier

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