In this thread (posted about a year ago) there is a discussion of problems that can come with running Word in a non-interactive session. The (quite strong) advice given there is not to do so. In one post it is stated "The Office APIs all assume you are running Office in an interactive session on a desktop, with a monitor, keyboard and mouse and, most importantly, a message pump." I'm not sure what that is. (I've been programming in C# for only about a year; my other programming experience has primarily been with ColdFusion.)
My program runs through a large number of RTF files to extract two pieces of information used to construct a medical report number. Rather than try and figure out how the formatting instructions in RTF work, I decided to just open them in Word and pull the text out from there (without actually starting the GUI). Occasionally, the program hiccuped in the middle of processing one file, and left a Word thread open attached to that document (I still have to figure out how to shut that one down). When I re-ran the program, of course I got a notification that there was a thread using that file, and did I want to open a read-only copy? When I said Yes, the Word GUI suddenly popped up from nowhere and started processing the files. I was wondering why that happened; but it looks like maybe once the dialog box popped up the message pump started pushing the main GUI to Windows as well?