Changes to UAC in Vista SP1: Much less than meets the eye

A video is making the rounds showing how Vista SP1 has significantly improved Vista's immensely annoying User Account Control (UAC). But there appears to be less to the improvement than meets the eye --- hardly any changes were made to UAC in SP1, and it remains a very big Vista annoyance.

Microsoft blogger Michael Kleef has made a video that he says illustrates how much better UAC is under SP1 than before SP1. It very nicely shows that when you create a new folder in Program Files, you only need to go through one UAC prompt under Vista SP1, rather than four previously.

That's certainly an improvement. But it affects very few people. That's because for creating new folders, UAC only springs into action when you create a folder in a protected location, such as Program Files. Create a folder anywhere else, and there's no UAC prompt. And it's rare that you'll create a folder in a protected location.

So what other changes were there to UAC? I've been using SP1 since it was released, and I haven't noticed a single difference. So I nosed around the Microsoft site, and found a document that described the changes to Vista under SP1.

There's hardly any mention of UAC. The document does note the change when creating a folder:

SP1 reduces the number of UAC (User Account Control) prompts from 4 to 1 when creating or renaming a folder at a protected location.

But then there's only one other change it lists:

Windows Vista SP1 includes a new Security Policy (UAC: Allow UAccess), which allows applications to prompt for elevation without using the secure desktop. This allows a remote helper to enter administrative credentials during a Remote Assistance session.

How many times in your life do you expect this "improvement" to affect you? If you're like many people, the answer may well be zero.

So despite the hype, UAC in SP1 remains perhaps the most annoying feature of all time. I hope we don't have to wait for Windows 7 for it to get fixed.


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