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Microsoft May Limit Employees' Admin Rights

Doug Caverly
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-05-25

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Due to one of the new features in Windows Vista, many Microsoft employees may have their administrative privileges taken away. Most of the people employed by the software giant currently have full admin rights on their desktop PCs, but this is unusual state of affairs for a corporation. The change would be made to improve security.

Microsoft tends to grant admin privileges so that early builds of software can be thoroughly tested in-house, but this practice leaves the door open for employees to install unauthorized software, or bring in spyware or other undesirables. By the default settings of the current version of Vista's User Access Control (UAC), standard users would only have limited rights.

The company is still on the fence about the issue. "We haven't made that final determination yet," said Mark Estberg, the director of Microsoft's internal security. "We would like to absolutely look at scenarios where we can look at elements of User Access Control-that is the feature in Vista-so that we can start moving in that direction."

It's possible that the UAC software will evolve in such a way that would render this a moot point, or at least make some middle ground available. Certain features of the UAC have become extremely unpopular with Vista beta users, and are likely to be altered before Vista hits the market.

Microsoft is loath to give up its practice of in-house testing. Estberg said employees make a valuable test-bed for the company's products, giving helpful feedback. He even gets a kick out of the process on a more personal level. "One of the things that makes my job cool is that I get to talk to the product groups early on and say, ‘Look, from my perspective and the job I do for Microsoft, here is what I need . . . . It is nice to see things in Vista that we have been talking about . . . ."

As a matter of security, the issue remains undecided, though. "It is a tough balance and every company has to decide what is right for them," Estberg concluded.

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About the Author:
Doug is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.

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