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Has anyone tested io.popen() and os.execute() on Vista when
running as anything but Administrator?

I haven't tried it (Lua with Vista, that is -- I have briefly tried Vista and found it to be OK, at least as good as XP2, in theory. In practice, since I don't have the latest and greatest hardware, it's a bit like running Linux plus KDE or Gnome. Rather a waste of CPU/RAM/GPU.)

What problems do you expect? IIRC, User Account Control (UAC) only kicks in when you try to do things which you're not privileged to do. And, to prevent people just "being Admin" all the time, even admins don't have full admin privileges all the time.

So annoying though UAC can be, it shouldn't kick in if you're not doing anything special (such as installing new programs, tweaking system registry entries, and the like). In normal life, it should be quiet.

As far as I can see, it's sort of like an automatic "as needed" sudo prompt -- mildly annoying but not entirely without value.