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Windows Vista may tell you that a program requires elevation in order to run. We'll look at what that means, and the various steps you can take.

While trying to install Office 2003 on my new Dell Vista I receive an error message stating "Requires Elevation". What does that mean and how do I continue the Office 2003 install?

"Requires Elevation" is a symptom of the increased security measures that have been implemented in Windows Vista. It's all part of the same concept that has you confirming that you are the administrator over and over again.

In other words, "Requires Elevation" is a part of what's called "User Access Control" or UAC.

There are two or three approaches to dealing with the message.

The term "elevation" simply means that you need a "higher" level of access to the system than you currently have. The privileges associated with your current login need to be temporarily raised or "elevated" to a more privileged or powerful level.

In practice, all this really means is that you need to be the administrator, or that you need to allow the program trying to run to elevate itself to administrative privileges by typing in the administrator password.

In many cases the "Requires Elevation" message box will include a "Continue" button. If you click that you'll be asked to enter the system administrator password, and the program - Office Setup in your case - will be granted the higher level of security privileges it needs so it can proceed.

The other approach is to right click on the program or shortcut you're intending to run (the Microsoft Office setup program - probably setup.exe on the installation media) where you'll then see this menu item:

"The problem is that a program running with administrative privileges can do anything it wants to your system."

Run As Administrator menu item

"Run as administrator" does exactly what it says, though it will likely first ask you to type in the administrator password to prove you really are the administrator of the machine.

The final solution is to turn off UAC altogether, which is discussed in this article How do I turn off User Access Control (UAC) in Windows Vista?

What most of this leaves people wondering is - why?

Why make you jump through all these hoops?

The answer, in a word, is security.

The problem is that a program running with administrative privileges can do anything it wants to your system. Anything. In the past many if not most people ran as administrator all the time just out of convenience. That means when some malware comes along and gains access to your machine it can do, you guessed it, anything.

By running at lower privilege level by default, programs that might harm your system in many cases simply cannot - they don't have access to the things that they would need to modify to infect your machine. Instead, when administrative privilege is required, you're asked, in effect, "this program needs administrative access - is that something you meant to do?". If you say yes, (and supply the administrator password, if requested) the program is "elevated" to administrator and off it goes.

Note that even when you are logged in as administrator, you're not really running as administrator in Vista. You're still at a restricted privilege level. The difference is that when the prompt comes up you don't need to type in the password, you simply need to say OK, or not, to the requests for elevation.

And finally, disabling UAC turns the whole thing off. If you're logged in as administrator, then everything you do has access to administrative privileges.

Which is pretty much how previous versions of Windows worked.

Article C3274 - January 22, 2008 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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7 Comments
Eli Coten
January 26, 2008 12:19 PM

The same principles apply to many modern distributions of Linux - certain programs require a higher level of privileges to run, so they prompt for a password first.

mocacndle
February 2, 2008 4:45 PM

I ran into the samething while downloading a software. It seems there are multiple ways around the Vista security. The one that worked for me was downloading the files directly from the folder itself without a "third party" involved. I did not have alter any administrative privelages.

puven
March 18, 2010 4:45 AM

thanks a lot...wish i read ur article few years ago :)

Krissy
September 12, 2011 6:27 AM

Thanks! I was able to re-install my copy of office when I clicked "run as administrator"

Mac
February 9, 2012 4:53 PM

Thanks sir,for Defining this error.It Helps me alot.

mark
March 7, 2012 6:48 AM

i tried above but didn't work. i am running as administrator, with windows 7 (open office 3.3) and .odt files on a samsung R530. open office 3.2 was running at time but just stopped working so i downloaded again but 3.3 version, but still no luck, my files won't open

murali`
February 7, 2013 9:58 PM

Thanks Leo it helped me a lot

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