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Okay, I can see a look of bewilderment on your faces--and this is going to sound super dumb, but before Vista, I used to like to manually install programs into the Program Files directory. Just create a directory named whatever and dump files and/or sub-directories into it, and it was good.

Vista wouldn't let me do this, so after a couple of trials, I took ownership of Program Files thinking that TrustedInstaller would still be around to give it back to. But, it just vanished from the list, and when I type it in to try to give the directory back, Vista can't find it.

Anybody have some idea how I can get Vista on track again--without re-imaging that is?

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This article gives a detailed explanation of the different security levels in Vista. It also mentions the exact SID for the TrustedInstaller, so you could search for this rather then the name when changing the ownership of the Program Files folder.

The Trusted Installer is actually a service, not a user, even though you see permissions granted to it all over the file system.

Service SIDs are not issued from the authorities we have seen before, such as NT AUTHORITY or a domain. The full name for the TrustedInstaller virtual account is NT SERVICE\TrustedInstaller and its SID is:

S-1-5-80-956008885-3418522649-1831038044-1853292631-2271478464

I would suggest trying this in Safe Mode. Basically, you can give ownership back by just typing NT SERVICE\TrustedInstaller instead of searching for it.

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