On my desktop machine at home, I run as a non-admin user almost all the time. (Microsoft has started calling this “LUA”, which I always have to look up. For my future reference, it means Limited User Account.) However, I haven’t gotten around to setting up my new laptop that way yet, partly because it’s such a frickin’ pain. There are way too many clueless installers that refuse to install for all users, and way too many Control Panel applets that just don’t work when you’re a non-admin, and other headaches too numerous to mention.
But I think I’m about to switch my laptop to run LUA, because I just ran across a sweet-looking tool called MakeMeAdmin, by Aaron Margosis. It gives you a command prompt that’s running under your current login account, but with administrator rights. So when you run that brain-damaged installer, it will still install under your own account. (His original post on MakeMeAdmin explains how it works. Fun little technicality.)
Note: If you’re running Windows XP, be sure to read the part of this post labeled “For Windows XP Professional” or “For Windows XP Home Edition”. Otherwise, you’ll end up with program directories that are writable even when you aren’t running under MakeMeAdmin, which defeats the whole point. (Not an issue on Windows 2000.)
This is just one of a whole group of posts Aaron wrote on how to run Windows as a non-admin. He has articles that explain both the why and the how. Check it out.
(Footnote: Microsoft has an article explaining how to run Visual Studio .NET 2003 as a non-admin.)