Vista's UAC needs an overhaul. Ideas?

Summary:It seems like everyone, other than possibly Microsoft's Vista team itself, seems to believe that the User Account Control (UAC) in Vista already needs an overhaul. The question is, who is going to do it? And what form will it take?

It seems like everyone, other than possibly Microsoft's Vista team itself, seems to believe that the User Account Control (UAC) in Vista already needs an overhaul. The question is, who is going to do it? And what form will it take?

UAC has given some Microsoft and third-party applications incompatibility fits. It's also leading to problems for some users trying to write to an external hard drive.

So who will step up and take the UAC fix-it challenge? Will it be Microsoft itself? A security consulting firm? A Microsoft competitor, like Symantec, which has said it is interested in delivering an alternative to UAC? Or perhaps a more neutral third-party software vendor?

The most sensible answer, of course, would be for Microsoft to step in and revamp UAC so that fewer customers shut it off and risk security problems in order to rid themselves of automatic pop-up annoyances.

Short of that, perhaps there's another way to fix UAC. On Stardock's WinCustomize site, there's a hypothetical discussion about alternative ways UAC could be made to function better:

"Imagine the UAC remembering what users had given it permission to previously? Right now, every time I open up Stardock Central, I'm prompted by UAC. Very annoying. What if after I selected 'continue,' it saved Stardock Central and its checksum such that it wouldn't come up again for that program as long as it was unchanged?

"Another example would be after I select continue on the UAC, the account remains in an elevated state for say 5 minutes (or some user-defined time) so that anything else that needs UAC would automatically be passed."

Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Donna Buenaventura suggests that admins can solve many UAC problems by simply making UAC invisible to standard users by changing a few Group Policy-settable options.

What do you think? Would any of these alterations alleviate Vista's UAC problems? Or is there another solution out there for users who have gone or plan to go Vista?

(And how about something other than the predictable round of "buy Mac, buy Linux, stay with Windows 95" this time around?)

Hat tip to my fellow ZDNet blogger Ryan Naraine over at the Zero Day security blog for help with this post.

Topics: Windows

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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