User Account Control

No Windows feature has proven as controversial and misunderstood as User Account Control, or UAC. When it debuted in Windows Vista, tech pundits screamed far and wide about this reviled feature, spreading mistruths and misunderstandings and generally raising a lot of ruckus about nothing. If these pundits had just calmed down long enough to actually use User Account Control for longer than a single afternoon, they’d have discovered something very simple: it’s not really that annoying, and it does in fact increase the security of the system. Indeed, we would argue that User Account Control is one of the few features that really differentiate modern Windows versions from the increasingly crusty XP, because there’s no way to add this kind of functionality to XP, even through third-party add-on software. User Account Control is effective, and as ongoing security assessments have proven, it really does work.

Great, but what is it exactly? In order to make the operating system more secure, Microsoft has architected Windows so that all of the tasks you can perform in the system are divided into two groups, those that require administrative privileges and those that don’t. This required a lot of thought and a lot of engineering work, naturally, because the company had to weigh the ramifications of each potential action and then code the system accordingly.

The first iteration of UAC was implemented in Windows Vista with what Microsoft thought to be a decent technical compromise. In response to overwhelming user feedback surrounding the frequency of prompts, however, Microsoft modified UAC in Windows 7 to make it “less noisy” (that is, less annoying) by default. They did this by implementing a pair of “Notify me only when. . .” options, letting users perform common configuration tasks, prompting only when something out of the ordinary is done (for example, changing important configuration settings). The result is that UAC in Windows 7 is more configurable and less irritating than it was in Vista. But it’s even more controversial, because it’s not clear that it’s as secure as it used to be.

Source of Information : Wiley Windows 7 Secrets (2009)

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