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The Sad Story of UAC

In Vista on a Mac, Windows on a Mac on February 8, 2007 at 11:38 pm

Vista on a Mac

What you saw during the latest Get a Mac ad (Security) is true. I have seen it when testing early versions of Vista and it’s sad to say it’s still here. It is the wrinkle on a new shirt, the hole in your favorite pair of pants. It’s User Account Control. It is the most annoying addition I have used in Vista. And It works in such a way that is defies it’s very purpose.

First off, UAC isn’t as awful as the ad shows. It’s useless but you aren’t required to accept every single action. To better understand, let’s investigate some situations.

Let’s say you want to create a new account on your computer. In the User Accounts section of the Control Panel, you select Manage another account. The screen dims and a single dialogue box comes up, asking you to confirm that action. How about enter the System Properties panel ( Computer name, allow Remote Assistance, etc.) or Parental Controls. You need to confirm. Really, it’s only the real important settings that require you to confirm. What happens if you need to run a program as an administrator? You get UACed every time you open the program. The ultimate sign of UAC is a small quad-coloured shield. Whenever you see this, you will have to confirm your actions.

That’s OK, right? How about we download Yahoo! Messenger (not the cool, upcoming Vista version). I decide to run and not download the software. The download is complete and I’m required to confirm the use of some Yahoo! program. Something crashes and Windows offers me to restart the install with better compatibility settings. I’m then asked if I want to open the file. I have to confirm again. It crashes again… OK, let’s try something else. Let’s try Skype. I choose run again. I get UACed again. OneCare, Microsoft’s paid-for security program, asks me if I want to unblock the firewall. I need to confirm this. It asks me again (maybe for something different) but doesn’t UAC me again. This might seem reasonable but think, you get all these messages, day after day, seeming all alike. You don’t read them anymore. Clicking Continue has become as automatic as entering a password.

As if the simple fact of having to confirm actions annoys you, do not operate Vista under a normal account and not an administrator account. Think of all those boxes. Then think not just pressing a button but imputing an administrator password every time.

What can you do about it? Keep it or leave it. You can deactivate. Or not.

“You are coming to a sad realisation. Cancel or Allow?”


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