User Account Control in Vista

Steve Hogan

We’re six months beyond the introduction of Windows Vista. Like it or not, new units are shipping with Vista installed and you’ll search long and hard for a new computer that does not have Vista as it’s operating system.

What feature do I hear the most about when it comes to Vista? User Account Control. “Once installed just disable it”, that’s the call I hear. Is this a good idea? Is the User Account Control just a big pain in the petuti or a needed feature?

Microsoft’s goal in introducing UAC was to allow users to run the computer with standard rights instead of Administrative rights. The whole purpose was to keep people from intentionally or accidentally changing system settings. Running with Administrative rights also allows malware to change your security and antivirus settings.

So it’s easy to set up UAC in Vista right? Well you be the judge. The average Mom and Pop running to the school, grocery, soccer, and work, can spend somewhere around 3 hours configuring and reading about Vista UAC or they can click one button and be done with it. Most people today don’t have twenty minutes to eat a meal with their family much less enough time to take a condensed course on Vista UAC configuration.

Here’s a typical article on using UAC. You’ll notice this is just the first part in a series. I just can’t see the average soccer mom or Grammy studying this for more than about 45 seconds, OTS (over the shoulder) changes, elevated credentials, charts and schematics, just to install TalkieCats for little Sammy. Nope a quick call to Bobbie the 15-year computer geek up the street and UAC is gone with a click.

It’s not that UAC is a bad idea; it’s just that its implementation is not easy enough for the “average” user. Remember the average user isn’t at PC Pitstop spending time helping others or learning about networking. Also note that Microsoft has allowed the removal of UAC to be accomplished with just one click. Do you think they knew this was going to be a stumbling block to selling this product? You bet they did.

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