Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008: Getting a CMD prompt as SYSTEM

What if you are troubleshooting a problem where an agent process like the SMS Client isn’t working? Or an anti-virus service is having issues reading the registry? If only we had some way to look at things while logged in as SYSTEM. What is SYSTEM and why is Vista/2008 special? SYSTEM is actually an account; […]

What if you are troubleshooting a problem where an agent process like the SMS Client isn’t working? Or an anti-virus service is having issues reading the registry? If only we had some way to look at things while logged in as SYSTEM.

What is SYSTEM and why is Vista/2008 special? SYSTEM is actually an account; in fact, it’s a real honest-to-goodness user. Its real name is “NT Authority\Local System” and it has a well-known SID of S-1-5-18. All Windows computers have this account and they always have the same SID. It’s there for user-mode processes that will be executed as the OS itself.

This is a bit tricky in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 though. In previous operating systems you could simply start a scheduled task CMD prompt and have it interact with the desktop easily. This was construed as a security hole to some people, so in Vista/2008 it’s not possible anymore.

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