Should AIR Support Application Installs Without Admin Rights?

In my previous post, I explained that installing an AIR application sometimes requires admin rights. This begs the question: Should AIR take pains to avoid those parts of application install that sometimes require admin rights? Some applications do support this, including recently Google Chrome.

We considered this when designing the AIR install experience and ultimately decided this would be a mis-feature. It breaks down to two cases:

  1. You’re the admin for the machine on which you’re installing software. (This is the typical consumer scenario.) You don’t need to install without admin rights because you’ve got them.
  2. You’re not the admin, and you don’t have admin rights. You want a non-admin-rights install because otherwise you can’t install the application. (This is a typical enterprise scenario.)

In this second case, however, your machine is locked down for a reason: the admin doesn’t want you to install anything. If they knew you were avoiding this restriction by installing without admin rights, they’d probably close that loophole, too. See, for example, this article about stopping users from installing Google Chrome.

So any specific support in AIR for installing applications without admin rights would be temporary at best, as admins could still prevent it. Worse, it makes extra works for admins who have to jump through hoops to keep their machines locked down. Since we’re interested in making sure AIR stays friendly for enterprise deployments, and this feature has no value for non-enterprises, well, it just doesn’t seem to make much sense.