Compatibility_Administrator Microsoft’s Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.0 is mostly for bigger companies that have to evaluate and mitigate application compatibility issues before deploying Vista. I have downloaded it before, but I found it too complex for a quick look. Some days ago, I stumbled across a post in the vista4beginners blog that seemed to have a solution for a UAC problem I had before. It describes how to disable UAC prompts for certain applications only. Unfortunately, it did not really work as I expected. But, at least, it made me play with the Compatibility Administrator which belongs to the Compatibility Toolkit.

This tool is quite interesting and it might be helpful if you have an application that is not running properly under Vista. Basically, you use the tool to configure how Vista treats a certain legacy application. For example, you can tell Vista not to use its virtualization mechanism when a legacy app tries to write in forbidden areas. There are countless other settings.

The parameter that helps solve most compatibility issues is probably “RunAsAdmin”. Most of the legacy apps that have problems under Vista just have to be started with admin privileges to run, properly. Vista’s UAC has some mechanisms that automatically detect if a program has to be elevated, but sometimes this doesn’t work, properly.

The Compatibility Administrator comes with a database of legacy apps and the corresponding remedies to make them work under Vista. Perhaps you are lucky and your problematic application is among them. You can also use the examples in this database to get an idea how compatibility issues can be solved.

The one described in the vista4beginners blog uses the RunAsInvoker parameter which makes sure that an application runs with the same privileges as the parent process. For instance, if a program is configured to run with admin privileges under normal conditions, you can make sure that it will only be launched with standard user rights which will prevent UAC from prompting for consent.

If you want to get an idea how the Compatibility Administrator works, I recommend following the step-by-step guide in the vista4beginners blog. It will show you how to use the RunAsInvoker parameter to prevent UAC from issuing a prompt once the application is configured to run with admin privileges. Note that the reason why Vista doesn’t issue a UAC prompt in this example is because it just launches the app with standard user rights.

More information about the important parameters RunAsInvoker, RunAsHighest and RunAsAdmin can be found here. An interesting question certainly is how to deploy sdb files in your network. This technet article gives you an idea how it can be done.

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Compatibility Administrator ^

7 Comments
  1. Leonardo 15 years ago

    Thanks for the heads up, I expected such capability it isn’t likely I’ll need to use such tools, managing several 3-8 computer networks on XP & Server 2000/2003.
    Speaking of virtualization… To Microsoft: WHY change so much, location-wise? Prime example is c:\users. WHY change so much, I want a valid reason!
    Now we have reparse points doing the CYA for backward compatibility because MS decided to change something so basic as the user home path.

    Arf. Off-topic and ranty!

  2. Michael Pietroforte 15 years ago

    Leonardo, I agree, it is often hard to understand why such changes are necessary. But Microsoft is relatively conservative about them. Linux distros are much more radical when it comes to changing directory structures.

  3. Leonardo 15 years ago

    @Michael:
    Basic structure changes such as moving /home? No way! Not a linux freak btw, did do my time running a server(FTP, DNS, HTTP, Samba, ipchains) back in 99…

    I digress, and address this: “why such changes are necessary.” Really, why are they?
    Why couldn’t “Documents and Settings” stay? Hell, for that matter, why did %SystemRoot%\Profiles get changed?
    Consistency, what a large word when it comes to M$… I remember this coming up in another topic (oh yea, server management tools)… The consistent part about that is: use RDP.

  4. Michael Pietroforte 15 years ago

    Usually they don’t change such old UNIX structures, but those things which are specific to a certain distribution are changed quite frequently, at least if you compare it to Windows. Symbolic and hard links come from the UNIX world, they are relatively new in Windows. That’s why such folder name changes have a tradition under UNIX. But take Vista x64 as an example. The folder system32 only contains 64-bit libraries. They could have renamed it to system64, but they didn’t do it because of compatibility reasons. I suppose they renamed Documents and Settings because they wanted to separate user data from system wide application settings. That’s why we have C:\users and C:\ProgramData. I think that makes sense.

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