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My question is, does using Blender (since it doesn't require an installation as far as I understand) tamper in any way with my system, install additional/required/third party software or make any long lasting changes to my registry?

I'm using Windows 8.1 64bit with all the current updates at the moment.

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No it doesn't modify your system, provided you are using the self-contained .zip version.

The self-contained .zip version is just that, self-contained. It will - of course - put data where-ever you tell it to. Animation output or other temporary files will be written where you tell Blender to put them. Temporary files (in C:\tmp\ by default) are deleted every so often.

In addition to the outputs mentioned above, the Blender Windows Installer will also make a link in you start menu, (possibly) on you desktop and will associate .blend files with the Blender executable. This file association is done via the registry but should be harmless.

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  • $\begingroup$ Just to be clear, only temporary files (files in C:\Temp) will be deleted. Saved renders/animation output will not be spontaneously removed ;) $\endgroup$
    – gandalf3
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ @gandalf3 Right, no more answering questions at 1am local-time for me (and then editing at 3am) ;D $\endgroup$
    – amziraro
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 19:05

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