Just a user on Windows

This topic has come up in discussions at work and at home and elsewhere recently: You shouldn’t need to be Administrator to run software. This has one of the primary failings of Windows over the years, and something which Linux and Apple and others have led the way.

The guidelines for applications go into some detail on this*. Most of it comes down to your application working out where it should be writing files and settings (and it’s only a single API call to find out) and using those locations. Not rocket science.

Yet it lives on… even while Microsoft is encouraging people not to routinely run as Administrator, far too many Windows applications (even those provided by Microsoft) continue to assume the user has permissions to write anywhere on the disk.

This article, for instance, lists a couple of dozen recent Microsoft games that have to be run as Administrator to work (and misinforms about the Runas command, to boot. Hint: you need to specify the user as /user:X, not just /X).

Unfortunately, the one I’m trying to get working, Train Simulator, is resistant to this solution, and won’t work even if you give all users full access to its own directory and to its entries under HKey_LocalMachine in the registry. Grrrrrr.

From the sounds of it, the coming versions of Windows (Longhorn) and IE and other applications will be better at this, with default users having few system privileges. And not before time.

*WTF did they make it an EXE download, with a compressed Word document inside? Could they make it any LESS friendly for non-Wintel users to read? How’s about using HTML fellas, or at least PDF?

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3 thoughts on “Just a user on Windows

  1. Pingback: Froosh. Stuff.

  2. daniel Post author

    Another article reveals a lot of the issues (including the one I’m having, it looks like) are caused by the games’ copy protection. And yes, one solution they still suggest is running as Administrator.

    One idea is to create an Admin user that the games RunAs, but is hacked so people can’t log into it. Kludgy, but I might try that.

  3. Ben

    How I got around this with MSTS was to log in as Administrator the first time I ran it. Subsequently to this I have been able to run it from my everyday user account. At least I think that’s what I did…

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