Vista Gets ActiveX Installer

Microsoft is adding a new feature to Windows Vista to allow businesses to load ActiveX controls on systems running without admin privileges.

The feature, called ActiveX Installer Service, will fit into the next public release of Vista to provide a way for enterprises to cope with the UAC (User Account Control) security mechanism.

UAC, formerly known as LUA (Limited User Account), is enabled by default in Vista to separate standard user privileges from those that require admin rights to harden the operating system against malware and malicious hacker attacks.

However, because UAC will block the installation of ActiveX controls on standard user systems, enterprise applications that use the technology will encounter breakages. ActiveX controls are objects used to enhance a users interaction with an application.

Microsoft has said the service will be an optional component on the Ultimate, Business and Enterprise versions of Windows Vista. The service is expected to debut in Windows Vista RC1 (Release Candidate 1) and will be enabled only on clients where its installed.

Microsofts Ben Fathi, corporate vice president of the Security Technology Unit, said the decision to add the ActiveX Installer was a result of demands from beta testers. "The feedback we get is that UAC is great, but, in the enterprise, there is a legitimate need to install applications on standard user systems. We had to create a way to safely preapprove applications without the need for an admin password," Fathi said in Redmond, Wash.

According to a Microsoft UAC blog, the ActiveX Installer Service will consist of a Windows service, a Group Policy administrative template and a few changes in the Internet Explorer browser.