Playing in the sandbox
I've been testing out a new utility (new to me, at least) at home called Sandboxie.
It's basically a tool that allows you to run various applications in an isolated fashion on your system, where they don't have direct access to the disk or the registry (they think they do, but they are being virtualized). This allows you to capture the full effects of their efforts to write to either location, and helps minimize any damage that comes from misue of the application, bad coding, or hidden spyware/malware accompanying the installed app.
So far, I've been using it to run various browsers and look at the various cookies that websites want to update, or just to test new applications of which I don't know the potential side-effects. So far, so good on a dual-core AMD system with 2GB RAM.
I'll have to try it on the dual-core Intel with 4GB RAM I have under my desk at the office and see if there are any issues. It's supposed to be able to run natively in 64-bit mode, and I'm running 64-bit at work.
Windows Vista is supposed to have similar isolation functionality primarily to facilitate backwards compatibility with older software that will lose its hair with the new security model. It will be interesting to see how well it works. I haven't had time to personally test Vista as yet...