!@#$%^ Windows stupid ownership / permissions changes in Vista/Server 2008


This is a response to the above message which zillions of system administrators world wide hate seeing on their server console. These messages were introduced as a new “feature” of Windows Server 2008, along with the changes that cause them. Microsoft arbitrarily brought in different meanings of ownership in Vista/2008 that are different from XP/2003. In Vista/2008 the ownership of a file or folder has precedence over permissions that are assigned to parent folders. For example in a home folders share, where individual users have created their own home folders or have had them created by an automated process, they are automatically the owner of those folders. Even if the administrator has full control over the parent folder this ownership blocks the normal inheritance of permissions. While there may be situations where an administrator should not have access to users’ home folders, this can already be catered for within the existing mechanisms for setting permissions on a parent folder and assigning them to different administrators, rather than imposing a one size fits all solution based on a Big Brother idea of dictating to organisations how to run their own file server in their own organisation.
Now, a solution to this is to change the ownership of all the files and folders in a location. Make the administrators group the owner and that will fix all these problems? Actually, it won’t. The second change which came about in Vista/2008 is that the administrators group in general no longer has the same authority over the server as they used to. Everyone has seen innumerable messages telling you that unless you tell something to run as administrator, the fact you are a member of the administrators group does not actually give you the rights you should normally have to do something. The implication of this for ownership is that changing the ownership to a group actually does not work. Changing the ownership to “administrators” group does not overcome the problem of getting the above message in the slightest. Windows basically will not honour those settings unless the ownership is changed to only one user. This means that a group of administrators cannot administer files because only one individual user account can be the owner of the files at any one time. Likewise you cannot grant other users administrative permissions to a file share because they are blocked by the ownership issue on the files and folders in it.
These features might make sense on a desktop computer used by only one server. They don’t make sense on a server where an administrator has to be able to manage files. For example we have scripted backups using Robocopy. It is common to see “Access denied” messages in the logs from running these scripts, purely on the basis of this arbitrary ownership change.
Why has this happened? MS has come up with the cheapest and simplest for it solution to all their massive security headaches and put these changes in without asking users what they wanted because all that matters is getting the bad publicity about security breaches off the front pages of newspapers. Some way back I wrote a hard headed post about all the ways that Vista lies to users. These faults to some extent were fixed in 7, but not in Vista. The solution, always, fork out more money for a new edition of Windows. A pattern that is becoming more and more common in Windows these days. Customer service has gone out the window.
Here is a thread that details how annoying Windows 7 home users find this functionality
As aside: What happens when you click Yes to the dialog box shown at the top of this thread? Windows automatically assigns you permissions (Read and Execute only) to the folder in question. Windows has to do this even if you are a member of the Administrators group and have already inherited permissions to the folder, and your user account you are logged onto at the moment is a member of that administrators group; in other words, you can’t use a group to manage security permissions for a resource any more unless they are not some of the built in administrative groups. I haven’t quite figured out yet if I can make up my own group of administrators and give them permissions, but so far everyone seems to be tainted by association with the membership of the Administrators group. 
By way of more testing I have confirmed that if I give permissions on the folder to individual user accounts then all the permissions work. If I create my own group and make my administrative accounts members of that group and apply permissions for that group, they don’t work. It is like MS has forced a Deny full control by default to the Administrators group. You can have read only access but not full permissions unless those permissions are granted to individual user accounts only.
None of these changes make any sense, nor does Microsoft appear to have any concept of accountability for them.