Friday, November 14, 2008

UAC Hell

I have spoken to several people lately about how I do not like running with UAC turned on under Vista. The concept of UAC is a good one; I just don’t like it for me so I keep UAC turned off. For some reason it seems that Windows wants to keep turning it on for no reason and without prompting. This has been driving me crazy for several months simply because when I turn it off I have to reboot and that takes a little while I my machine. I plan to do a “Freeman” very soon.

Well, last week UAC again got turned on without prompting. This time it was far worse than any other time. I noticed right away when I went to enter my password that the dialog was different. I just figured that whatever update turned UAC back on must have also changed the login dialog. Then, I figured out that my password did not work. I entered it the same way and the login dialog accepted it but I received a message that I needed elevation. How much more elevation can you get than the administrator? So, I went and looked at my user rights and guess what, I was no longer an administrator on my own computer. I was just a debugging user. To boot, I had no clue what the password would be for the Administrator account. All I read about Vista said that the Administrator account was not really one that could be logged on to. Just great!

After an hour or so of trying to figure out what was going on, I was reminded of a conversation I had with some networks guys I work with. I needed to install a specific version of MSXML on each workstation at a fairly large company (300 machines). The network guys suggested that I allow them to push the install down using Group Policy. Ah ha! So, if they could push down entire installs I bet they push down configurations too. But, I never log on to the domain directly so does Group Policy apply to me? The answer is yes. I log into the network using a VPN connection and that is all that is needed. My login name (rather than machine name) was the key for the Group Policy. Our system admin removed my computer name from the list of computers to update and now all it well again. I just hope that it stays that way. So, when weird things happen, don’t forget to look to the network configurations, all of them.