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Edge (Chromium) warns you if you run it with elevated privileges

The Chromium-based Microsoft Edge web browser warns users if they run the web browser with elevated privileges.

Microsoft is working on a new Chromium-based version of the Edge browser and has released previews of the browser for Windows already. The company hopes that the move to a Chromium-base will address several issues of the current Microsoft Edge browser, especially web compatibility.

The new Edge browser displays a warning prompt in the interface on launch if it is run with administrative privileges. One of the easier ways to run Microsoft Edge with elevated rights is to right-click on the Edge shortcut, e.g. in the Start Menu, and select “run as adminstrator”.

edge administrator mode detected

The message states “Administrator Mode Detected. Close Microsoft Edge and relaunch in non-administrator mode for best performance”.

A big “close Microsoft Edge” button is attached to the prompt which closes the browser when you activate it. Users who want to continue running Edge in administrative mode can click on the little x-icon instead to close the prompt.

Edge works like non-elevated copies from that moment on; additional prompts are not displayed.

Microsoft states that running Edge with elevated rights affects performance of the browser negatively. The message may surprise some users as security concerns would be a much stronger case for not running Edge with administrative privileges.

It is generally a good idea to avoid running any process with elevated rights. One of the main reasons for that is security, as any code executed from such a process runs with administrative rights as well.  Malware has more options for exploitation if it runs with elevated rights; programs that you download may be executed with elevated rights if you download and start them in an elevated Edge process.

One of the main security issues on Windows, especially installations by end users, is that administrative accounts are used and not user accounts.

Some programs require elevated rights to function properly. Microsoft’s own Disk Cleanup tool requires elevated rights to clean some locations on the device; other backup and cleaning programs, and also security applications, may require elevated rights to function properly as well.

Performance benchmark

Microsoft Edge warning users if Edge is run with elevated rights changes Microsoft indifferent approach to the issue; whether that is caused by Edge performing worse if run in an elevated context, security concerns, or a mix of both, is unclear at this point.

I tested the performance of a non-elevated Chromium-based edge and an elevated version of Edge using the recently released JetStream 2 benchmark.

The non-elevated Edge managed to score 102.715 points, the elevated Edge managed to gain 99.034 points in the benchmark; that is not a huge difference and results do differ slightly even when you run the benchmark using the same browser over and over again.

JavaScript performance on the other hand does not reflect the browser’s overall performance.

Closing Words

Generally speaking, it is a good idea to run browsers and other high risk applications in the user context if possible to improve security. It is unclear if Microsoft will display the notification on Windows only.

Now You: do you run your browsers with elevated rights? (via Deskmodder)

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