UAC Improvements in Release Candidate 1 (RC1) and Video

We’d like to thank all of the Windows Vista beta testers for using and giving us feedback on User Account Control. It’s definitely an area where we’ve received significant feedback, and an area where we’ve been able to make significant improvements in Windows Vista Release Candidate 1.

On June 1, Steve Hiskey, Lead Program Manager for the User Account Control, blogged about the team’s plan to reduce the prompts in RC1. We’ve created a video to show you some of the work the team has done since then.

> Watch video

Prompt reductions shown in the video:

  • File operations, reducing the prompts caused by adding, deleting, or editing files in protected directories. For example, administrators can delete shortcuts from the public desktop without receiving a prompt. And the user should no longer receive a prompt when copying files to a newly formatted storage drive.
  • Re-architecting several Control Panel applets so that they no longer prompt when opened. Examples include the Firewall applet, Scanners and Cameras applet, and the Software Explorer of Windows Defender.
  • Reducing prompts when creating new network connections.

In addition to the prompts in the video, users can install high-priority updates without a prompt, and will receive fewer prompts caused from unknown devices and driver installation. Based on these changes, we are finding that, on average, users are not receiving any prompts most times that they use Windows Vista.

Other improvements besides prompt reduction that we’ve made to Windows Vista RC1 are:

  • UAC prompts will not “steal focus” from the user’s task. If the operating system cannot determine that the prompt was generated from the foreground window the current user is using, we will alert the user with a highlighted operation in the taskbar that an application is requesting elevated privileges. The user can select to elevate at his or her convenience and not be disrupted by an unplanned application elevation.
  • Elevations are now blocked in the user's logon path. Applications improperly elevating during each and every logon were a significant source of feedback from the Beta 2 release, and based on that feedback, we are disallowing elevations during logon.
  • Improved performance when switching to the secure (dimmed) desktop to display the prompts. We received significant feedback that the small delays during switching were disruptive, and we have worked with the video and display teams to enhance the user experience in this area.

If you’ve used an earlier version of Windows Vista, we are confident that you’ll notice the improvements in RC1. If RC1 is your first chance to use Windows Vista, you’ll probably wonder what all the fuss was about.

- Alex Heaton
Windows Vista Security