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ArcGIS Administrator should work without admin rights to computer

08-23-2012 01:56 PM
Status: Open
New Contributor III
My understanding is that using ArcGIS 10 on Windows 7 requires admin rights in order to be able to change the level of license (ArcView, ArcEditor, ArcMap) in the ArcGIS Administrator or make changes to the registry keys.  We need users to be able to change the level of licensing and have many users such that this would require a lot of effort to make changes to the registry keys on each computer.  Can ESRI change this so users have access to make this change without admin rights on their computer (company policy does not allow this). 
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There is a workaround -- you can change the license level using environment variables (concurrent only).

see KB 24633: HowTo:  Change the ArcGIS Desktop seat type for Citrix or restricted permissions environments
I cant use the work around that was mentioned.  We have stand alone users, who need to switch to concurrent licenses in order to access extensions.  The problem is that they are in a different builting a couple miles away, and there is no one with admin rights in that building.

This exact situation has mandated purchasing only ArcInfo/Advanced licenses for shared single-user machines in a computer lab, driving up costs dramatically.

Additionally, having the option to switch license levels inside a user's instance of ArcMap/Catalog/Scene/Globe is completely necessary.

On a multi-user server (with multiple simultaneous users), having the license level only able to be modified by one admin, and that changing the license level for all users at once, is ridiculous.

Disagree.  There are very very very good reasons why not everyone should have administrator privileges on their work computer.  Our IT department did give our GIS department the privilege but we had to do some minor training.


There are very very very good reasons why not everyone should have administrator privileges on their work computer.

Maybe so, but:

  1. There are zero suggestions here that users be given full admin access to their own work computers - the idea is to ensure that non-admin users can switch their ArcGIS license level via ArcGIS Administrator.
  2. Simply using "very" three times is not an argument, and is no substitute for including actual support for the idea that providing admin access is unadvisable. That said, argumentation against admin access is irrelevant, as there's no opposing viewpoint expressed here.

Why would you need to change your license level often enough for it to be an issue? I have not changed my license level on my work computer in 15 years.  I sometimes remote into a client who only has 3 licenses and I sometimes have to lower mine on their computer.

Very Reason one: If you don't know a reason why people should not be allowed to make registry entry changes on a work computer you should not be messing with it.  People can install anything, bring in things to your organization, change settings, delete critical elements etc...

Very Reason two: You could take down your network

Very Reason three: Targeted malware can get into your network via an administrator without them knowing it

Very Reason four: Employees tend to find programs on the internet and install them on a work computer.  Often does not hurt anything but often as not it can

Very Reason five: Did I mention Malware. Users tend to click the OK button without comprehending what can happen.

Very Reason six: The user can change settings that IT (the people who really know about networks and computer safety because they live it day to day) has put in place.

Sorry that is six very's as an argument and I will quit at that.


Rationale for changing license level, which I hinted at before: it allows cost savings.

  • The cost of licensing varies: Advanced > Standard > Basic.
  • An organization can fill their shared pool of concurrent licenses with some of each type of license (perhaps even more of the cheaper licenses), instead of purchasing all Advanced licenses at increased cost.
  • Users can then use lower licenses by default and upgrade temporarily to higher licenses as necessary, without unnecessarily monopolizing the higher licenses.

And I'm not proposing any discussion of whether users should have admin access to their work machines - it was never the issue. My pointing out that "very very very" is hardly compelling argumentation was simply a bonus bit of snark.


Reason why users in our organization need to have ability to change license levels, and even license manager thru ArcGIS Administrator (one being, as Chuck mention, tied to cost)

  • about 350 ("non-fulltime" GIS) users sharing  about 5 ArcInfo/Advanced, 50 ArcView/Basic and a handful of extensions.  Users are advised to only switch to ArcInfo when needing an advanced tools, then switch back. (and to get out of the software unless using it)
  • We can not afford an ELA license situation
  • Because of the first bullet, and because "borrowing" licenses is an all or nothing situation (options file doesn't have any ability to help)  there is nothing that would prevent all 55 licenses from being borrowed, for whatever time is set to, with no ability by the administrator to pull these licenses back early, and therefore making licensee unavailable for the other ~300 users.  Or solution is to have another 6 licenses on a separate license manager with a limited "timeout" for use in the field/offline.  Users switch to this other server to borrow/unborrow, then switch back to the other in-house/LAN manager when back in the office.

In our offices, after several requests by a user to have tech support staff make the change as an administrator, typically they are give the admin rights for their machine.  We are all "professional staff", in theory anyway, so there does have to be some trust there that the user will not abuse this right (admin right policies have changes back and forth over the years).  Typically users are now aware that they shouldn't just click on everything in emails and/or download and install everything they see on the internet.

So, it would be nice if the license level, and license manager, could be modified without computer administration rights.  However, my guess is, because this change currently makes a change in the registry (which typically does require admin rights too), this is not a trivial change.  But I'm voting it up too (even though this "idea" has been around for a long time).

edit: however, Curtis Price  suggestion KB link (first comment) is a workaround, although not necessarily convenient for casual user....but might be a link I add to my  internal "Troubleshooting" page.  (the KB article seems to only cover thru 10.2.2, and doesn't mention newer, or any OSs).


Exactly, exactly. Buying 55 Advanced licenses would cost much more than 5 Advanced and 50 Basic, simple as that.


I agree 100% with this request but it's already 4 years since the request was added and still no enhancement.  Anyway, there is a kluge workaround that I don't have enough still to program.  ArcMap and ArcCatalog can be started up in any of the licensing levels by using batch files where a variable named ESRI_SOFTWARE_CLASS is set to Professional or Viewer.  But when using the method a user has to navigate to MXDs only after starting up the ArcMap / ArcCatalog.

Does anyone know how to add options to the right button click action in Windows Explorer to show two options for files with a .mxd extension, one for the Advanced and another for Basic? I think that would be useful workaround since ESRI can't or won't do the requested enhancement.