Windows & .NET Magazine UPDATE--Oh the Pain: Paul's First Week as a Limited User--June 22, 2004

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1. Commentary
- Oh the Pain: Paul's First Week as a Limited User

2. Hot Off the Press
- Microsoft Enlists College Students to Improve Office

3. Inside Windows Scripting Solutions
- July 2004 Issue
- Focus: Augment Your Argument Arsenal

4. Resources
- Featured Thread: Microsoft IIS Attacks. Help!
- Tip: Can I switch an Active Directory (AD) domain from native mode to mixed mode?

5. New and Improved
- Maintain Network Flow and Performance
- Audit and Recover Passwords
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

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==== 1. Commentary: Oh the Pain: Paul's First Week as a Limited User ====
by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, [email protected]

Last week, I mentioned that I'd be testing the experience of running Windows XP Professional Edition as a Limited account user, rather than using the more typical Administrator account that XP sets up for you by default. I didn't expect to have anything significant to report this soon, but after a week of experimenting, I have a lot to discuss, both good and bad. Here's how it's going so far.

To test the Limited account scenario, I wiped out my main desktop machine and reinstalled XP from scratch. During installation, XP doesn't offer you a chance to create Limited accounts (as Linux does) but instead creates any account as an Administrator account with no password, which is incredibly unsafe. I created a local "Paul" account during setup and installed XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) after the final reboot. Then, I changed Paul to a Limited account, assigned a password, held my breath, and dived right in. First step: Install a bunch of software.

The software I use is typical in many ways. I generally start with Microsoft Office 2003, which is, of course, savvy to the different types of user accounts Windows users might have and automatically opens a Run As dialog box that warns you that the suite must be installed by an Administrator account. The warning and automatic Run As dialog box is a nice feature, and over the course of installing several software packages, I was surprised by how many programs offered this facility.

However, quite a few software applications aren't aware of this Administrative account requirement, and their setup routines fail with a warning stating that the current user doesn't have sufficient privileges. In such cases, you can generally locate the setup.exe (or similar) application, hold down the Shift key, right-click, and choose Run As. You can then usually install the application under the privilege level of an administrator-type account.

A third level of applications seems fairly insidious. You install these applications by using Run As, and after Setup finishes, the Start Menu contains no shortcut to the application you just installed. So, you have to manually hunt down the application and create shortcuts. ( and MSN 9 both showed this behavior.) That's silly.

Finally, some applications won't work even after you install them from an administrator-level account. Many games behave this way. For example, after I used Run As to install Activision's "Call of Duty," I couldn't successfully run the game because the first time the program attempted to write a configuration setting, it crashed. When I tried to run the game with Run As, it also failed. I even tried to install the application to a nonprotected folder, with no success.

I'll grant you that games aren't a common application at most businesses, but let's face reality here: We use Windows at work, and we use it at home, and arguably, many people would be more inclined to create Limited accounts for family members than for coworkers. But the home-oriented scenarios are the ones in which the Limited user accounts fall apart most easily.

Another shortcoming is shortcut creation. As I mentioned earlier, some applications don't create a shortcut when you use Run As from a Limited account to install the application. But many applications create shortcut icons on the desktop, which is precisely where I don't want them. And then, you can't delete them from a Limited account. Why, you ask? Well, because the shortcuts aren't stored on your desktop, they're stored in the All Users account's desktop, which transparently copies its contents to the current user's desktop at runtime. To delete these shortcuts, you need to use Run As to run cmd.exe, navigate to the All Users desktop folder (C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Desktop), then delete them by using the DEL command you might remember from your DOS days. This task isn't one that many home users would know about or be comfortable performing.

A related problem is the Start Menu, which quickly fills up with shortcuts created in both your account and the All Users account. I generally like to subdivide the clutter in the Start Menu with logical subfolders such as Digital Media, Internet, and Utilities so that I don't have to look at too many folders every time I open the Start Menu. But with a Limited account, I find it more difficult to push folders into my structure because most of the folders exist in All Users and the system complains when I try to move them. I would need to log on as an Administrator account to perform this task.

For some tasks, however, XP is surprisingly accessible from a Limited account. After I assigned a password to my Limited account, I could easily access my network shares, where I keep data and application installations. Many applications work fine with no prodding. You quickly learn when you need to use Run As (with many Control Panel applets) and when you don't, although I think a system such as the one that Linux and Mac OS X use--one that automatically prompts you for an Administrator-level password when needed--would be simpler and more secure than XP's haphazard approach.

On Thursday, I'm flying to Chicago to speak to a user group, and I'm still debating whether I should convert my laptop to a Limited account to see how it fares on the road. But so far, the Limited account experience has been painful. At home, I'll continue this experiment to determine in which areas XP falls short. But clearly, some work needs to be done, primarily with third-party software writers, to make Limited accounts a more viable option for most users. I'm a fairly sophisticated user, but I think the average person would give up computers all together before trying to use them like this.


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==== 2. Hot Off the Press ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft Enlists College Students to Improve Office
This week, Microsoft will host 15 college students from around the world at its Redmond campus to find out how they see the company's Microsoft Office suite evolving during the next 10 years, when they'll be part of the workforce that the company targets with the product. Microsoft hopes that the students, who are 19 to 24 years old, will inject a bit of a youthful outlook into Office, which has stagnated as it has matured. The weeklong brainstorming session is called the Microsoft Office Information Worker Board of the Future. For the complete story, visit the following URL:

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==== 3. Inside Windows Scripting Solutions ====

Windows Scripting Solutions is a monthly paid print newsletter loaded with news and tips to help you manage, optimize, and secure your Web-enabled enterprise. NONSUBSCRIBERS can access all the newsletter content in the online article archive from the premiere issue of Windows Scripting Solutions (December -----1998) through the print issue released 1 year ago.

In addition to receiving the monthly print newsletter, SUBSCRIBERS can access all the newsletter content, including the most recent issue, at the Windows Scripting Solutions Web site ( ). Subscribe today and access all 2003 issues online!

July 2004 Issue
To access this issue of Windows Scripting Solutions, go to the following URL:

Focus: Augment Your Argument Arsenal
Although WSH provides tools to validate arguments, problems can still arise. Luckily, you can use a .wsc component to automatically validate them. With this component and WSH's tools, you'll be armed with the tools you need to police the WSH command line.

Automate Changes to Terminal Services User Settings
The WTSSetUserInfo script gives you an easy way to automate large-scale changes to Terminal Services settings.
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==== Instant Poll ====

Results of Previous Poll: Deploying Windows Server 2003
The voting has closed in Windows & .NET Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "When will your organization move to Windows Server 2003?" Here are the results from the 370 votes:
- 28% We've already moved to Windows 2003
- 28% We're currently in the process of moving to Windows 2003
- 19% We plan to move to Windows 2003 within the next 12 months
- 25% We have no plans to move to Windows 2003

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The next Instant Poll question is, "How often do you require users in your organization to change their passwords?" Go to the Windows & .NET Magazine home page and submit your vote for a) Every 30 days or less, b) Every 30 to 60 days, c) Every 60 to 120 days, d) Every 120 days to 1 year, or e) We don't enforce a password change policy.

==== 4. Resources ====

Featured Thread: Microsoft IIS Attacks. Help!
Forum user dealman is running Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0 on Windows Server 2003. He checked his logs and discovered someone is running Unicode and searching through his hard drives. How can he stop this intrusion? To join the discussion, visit the following URL:

Tip: Can I switch an Active Directory (AD) domain from native mode to mixed mode?
by John Savill,

A. After you've changed an AD domain to native mode, it remains in native mode. You can't perform an authoritative restore to change the AD domain from native mode to what it was before the switch (i.e., mixed mode). If you haven't yet changed from mixed to native mode and believe you might want to switch back at some point, you should take one of the domain controllers (DCs) offline (thereby ensuring that it doesn't hold any of the Flexible Single-Master Operation--FSMO--roles), then perform the switch to native mode. Should you need to switch the AD domain back to mixed mode, perform the following tasks: 1. Turn off all the DCs. 2. Turn on the offline mixed-mode DC you set aside. 3. Use Ntdsutil to give that DC all the FSMO roles. 4. Rebuild all the other DCs from scratch; don't bring them online as DCs.

Be aware that some applications might have switched to native-mode compatibility and thus won't work when the domain is returned to mixed mode.

==== Events Central ====
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==== 5. New and Improved ====
by Angie Brew, [email protected]

Maintain Network Flow and Performance
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