Information Resources: Catching device input/output & background progr

First of all this thread is in the C & C++ section because I have the most experience in C++ application development (though I haven't written anything for awhile). If it should be moved elsewhere or people have suggestions in other languages, that's fine as well.

I am looking for programming information on the following topics:
-Finding out when a device gets input in (ie: keystrokes or mic line in)
-Finding out when a device gets output sent to it (ie: audio out)
-Sending information into a program (ie: keyboard hooks, setting changes)
-Catching specific keyboard commands from a program not in the foreground to cause action

A couple notes:
I am planning on Windows based development at the moment.

Yes, the programs I intend to interface with / send setting changes to are specific but I think I will have others added during development and want a more general view on how to accomplish it than how to do so for one specific program.

I haven't had much luck searching down any of these topics, really. I realize they are each pretty complex but even general information is useful at this point.

I have not posted any specifics on my planned project simply because this is something I've wanted to try to make for awhile and I really don't want anyone handing me an exe or pointing me to a program that does it all already.

Thanks everyone for your time and any input you might have to help.
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