Microsofts Windows software forms the basis for an ecosystem of applications that run on top of it, but sometimes those programs are designed to correct the things customers dont like or want in the operating system.
Take Vistas controversial User Account Control, which is designed to reduce the exposure and attack surface of the operating system by requiring that all users run in standard mode.
But, when Vista users encounter a system task that requires administrator privileges, such as attempting to install an application, up pops a dialogue box telling them that they need administrator authorization.
Given the fact that where there is market demand there will be a product to fill it, BeyondTrust released Privilege Manager 3.5 on August 21. The product, which costs $30 a seat, removes almost all the UAC (User Account Control) prompts an enterprise user might see when running Vista, BeyondTrust CEO John Moyer told eWEEK.
Privilege Manager 3.5 essentially gives network administrators the power to decide when to elevate privileges by letting them create security policies that are applied via Microsofts Group Policy, he said.
These policies can automatically grant authorized applications the necessary privileges to run, thereby suppressing UAC prompts without removing any of the benefits of Vista and UAC.
Privilege Manager 3.5 supports Vista, including its recommended corporate configuration, as well as Windows 2000, XP and Server 2003.
"The issue for many enterprise users is that they often need to run applications that require administrator privileges," Moyer said.
"Privilege Manager solves this problem by enabling administrators to configure an environment in which end-users can run all required applications and perform all authorized tasks without administrative privileges or administrator passwords, thus helping to protect against malicious use, malware and zero-day threats," he said.
Even more interesting is the fact that Microsoft is publicly endorsing the product.
"BeyondTrust Privilege Manager helps corporations that need to allow standard users to run applications that require administrative privileges on Windows Vista with UAC, enabled without any prompts or input required from the user," said Austin Wilson, Microsofts director of Windows Client Security Product Management.
"I am pleased to see third-party security vendors such as BeyondTrust improve Vista, which is our most secure business client operating system. The combination of elevating approved applications transparently with Privilege Manager and running UAC in no prompt mode with Internet Explorer in protected mode provides a best of breed solution to the least privilege problem," he said.
For customers like Omar Ghneim, a network administrator at EXCO Resources, Privilege Manager will be the catalyst that gets the company to move to move to Vista while continuing to use its critical line-of-business applications without any pop-ups.
"Were looking forward to getting the best of both worlds—the benefits of Vista with a transparent Least Privilege security environment," he said.