User Account Control: Windows 7 vs. Windows Vista

User Account Control has been one of the most complained-about features in Windows Vista. Some users said its frequent pop-up security notifications were annoying, and others doubted that User Account Control actually made their PCs more secure.

In this video, Windows expert J. Peter Bruzzese of demonstrates User Account Control in Windows 7 and talks about its improvements over Windows Vista. Microsoft partners had a lot of trouble selling Vista, and part of that was because of User Account Control. The improvements in Windows 7 could help create new opportunities for solutions providers when the operating system hits the market in late 2009 or early 2010.

Check out these additional User Account Control resources:

User Account Control: How to develop code for standard users
User Account Control in Windows Vista: Blessing or curse?
What are the risks of disabling User Account Control on Windows Vista?

Read the full transcript from this video below:  

User Account Control: Windows 7 vs. Windows Vista

While previous versions of Windows had a feature called Windows Security Center -- that was a tool that monitored the various security features of the system -- within Windows 7, we take that to the next level by using a tool called the Action Center. Here you can see the Action Center is similar to the Windows Security Center, but it goes beyond just security; it also monitors the operating system’s maintenance features and it consolidates alerts from other Windows features into one interface. What we really want to take a look at here in the Action Center is the fact that we have new User Account Control settings.

The User Account Control settings in Windows Vista were complained about pretty often. In fact, if you ask anyone, “What is your most hated feature in Windows Vista?” nine times out of 10, this is what’s going to be on people’s list: User Account Control. Yet that’s actually odd to me because User Account Control is actually very helpful in protecting your computer, but it involves a couple of extra clicks. It’s a little bit annoying; your screen gets grayed out sometimes and you get an extra step where you’re asked to either provide credentials or give your permission for something to happen. That’s supposed to protect you, but sometimes, you might get so comfortable with just clicking Continue, that you don’t really think about what’s happening and why something is happening on your system, so you’re just as open to attack perhaps. Those are the different arguments as [to] why User Account Control can be helpful or sometimes detrimental to your security.

With Windows 7, Microsoft is allowing you now to determine how you want it controlled on your system. You can see here there are four different settings for User Account Control. We move the setting to the bottom here. Notice it says "never notify": "Never notify me when programs try to install software or make changes to my computer or when I make changes to Window’s settings." It’s not recommended, but it can be selected. The next one up is "notify me only when programs try to make changes to my computer. Do not dim my desktop." People hated that feature. Personally, I didn’t mind it, but if it’s something that’s bothering you, you will be notified without the dimming.

The next level up is the default "notify me only when programs try to make changes to my computer, so don’t notify me when I make changes to Windows settings." This, to me, is an awesome setting, because every time I make a change, I’m the administrator. I know what I’m doing. If I’m making a change, then I want that change effected. I don’t have to give my permission; but in Windows Vista, you do. This is a really good setting. This will hopefully quell some of the anger that people have toward User Account Control. Of course, you can go up one more and you can "always notify when programs try to install software," or even when you make changes to Windows settings. Obviously, I’m going to leave this one back here, at No. 3. You can set it however you like. The good news is that you can control this on your users' desktops in a network environment by using Group Policies settings.

Again, a very happy improvement in Windows 7. Stay tuned for more. We’ll see you in the next lesson.

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