In Windows NT and later systems derived from it (such as Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Vista/7), there must be at least one administrator account (Windows XP and earlier) or one able to elevate privileges to superuser (Windows Vista/7 via User Account Control). In Windows XP and earlier systems, there is a built-in administrator account that remains hidden when a user administrator-equivalent account exists. This built-in administrator account is created with a blank password. This poses security risks, so the built-in administrator account is disabled by default in Windows Vista and later systems due to the introduction of User Account Control (UAC).
A Windows administrator account is not an exact analogue of the Unix root account - some privileges are assigned to the "Local System account". The purpose of the administrator account is to allow making system-wide changes to the computer (with the exception of privileges limited to Local System).
The built-in administrator account and a user administrator account have the same level of privileges. The default user account created in Windows systems is an administrator account. Unlike Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows Vista/7 administrator accounts, administrator accounts in Windows systems without UAC do not insulate the system from most of the pitfalls of full root access. One of these pitfalls includes decreased resilience to malware infections. In Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP Professional, and Windows Server 2003, administrator accounts can be insulated from more of the these pitfalls by changing the account from the administrator group to the power user group in the user account properties but this solution is not as effective as using newer Windows systems with UAC.
In Windows Vista/7 administrator accounts, a prompt will appear to authenticate running a process with elevated privileges. No user credentials are required to authenticate the UAC prompt in administrator accounts but authenticating the UAC prompt requires entering the username and password of an administrator in standard user accounts. In Windows XP (and earlier systems) administrator accounts, authentication is not required to run a process with elevated privileges and this poses another security risk that lead to the development of UAC. Users can set a process to run with elevated privileges from standard accounts by setting the process to "run as administrator" or using the "runas" command and authenticating the prompt with credentials (username and password) of an administrator account. Much of the benefit of authenticating from a standard account is negated if the administrator account's credentials being used has a blank password (as in the built-in administrator account in Windows XP and earlier systems).
Read more about this topic: Super-user
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