BeyondTrust has become the latest software vendor to release a product alleviating the annoyances of Windows Vista's User Account Control (UAC) feature, this time with Microsoft's public blessing.

The firm's Privilege Manager 3.5 aims to allow companies to customise the way UAC works, selecting which programs are automatically granted elevated privileges.

BeyondTrust argues that this compromise allows companies to get the security benefits of UAC without constant pop-up prompts and without the need to give users administrator passwords.

Privilege Manager also works with UAC switched off or with versions of Windows that don't use UAC, namely Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

In non-UAC environments the tool allows users to be set up without any administrator privileges, while still having the ability to run privileged applications, something typically problematic under Windows 2000 or Windows XP.

If UAC is present, Privilege Manager removes most or all security prompts, while if UAC isn't present, Privilege Manager acts as a sort of UAC substitute.

Traditionally, Windows has required typical users to be administrators, which critics say has caused many security problems. UAC is part of Microsoft's effort to respond to these criticisms, but some corporate users have said the feature is so annoying it is effectively useless.

Security experts have also pointed out that Microsoft has intentionally left many loopholes in UAC, limiting its effectiveness as a security tool. Indeed, to the confusion of some, Microsoft now says publicly that UAC isn't intended as a security feature.

Microsoft is publicly endorsing Privilege Manager.

"The combination of elevating approved applications transparently with Privilege Manager and running UAC in no prompt mode with Internet Explorer in protected mode provides a best of breed solution to the least privilege problem," said Austin Wilson, director of Windows client security product management at Microsoft, in a statement.

Privilege Manager 3.5 is available now, with pricing starting at $30 per seat.