‘Interesting’ UAC prompts.

I find that often when it comes to UAC (User Account Control) prompts in Windows Visa some of them are confusing. On occasions I’ve been fooled into acepting a UAC prompt that I really didn’t want to – and other times I’ve been completely baffled by what I’m being asked.

I’ve got some good examples below.

What I expect:
When I try to delete a file that exists in my Windows directory I expect UAC to elevate, delete the file, then return me to my non elevated state.
What actually happens:
UAC elevates me to admin, sets the permissions of said directory so I have can delete files, returns to my unelevated state and then delete the files. Thus rendering my filesystem unprotected by UAC?!?

What I expect:
When I delete a folder that I happen to have a sub-folder of open in Windows Explorer I expect the sub folder to be deleted and the open Explorer window to close.
What actually happens:
I get prompted repeatedly by UAC about how I don’t have permissions to delete a folder until I finally resort to closing every open application only to realise that I do in fact have permissions.

What I expect:
When I delete those files I just put on that blank partition just there – yes, that’s right those files… the ones I just put there 2 seconds ago – UAC does nothing because I just put them there, right?
What actually happens:
UAC prompts to elevate to delete a file that I just copied 2 seconds ago – without any real explanation for why!

UAC in Windows vista is like living with a fastidious flat mate. You appreciate that they keep the flat tidy and sort out the electric bill, but it really pisses you off that they’re on at you to take your shoes off the minute you walk through the door. You don’t want to let it upset you too much – getting rid of the flat mate means an untidy flat.

Have you noticed any interesting UAC prompts? Something unexpected? Let me know – leave a comment.

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4 Responses to “‘Interesting’ UAC prompts.”
  1. Al Nicol says:

    The idea of having ‘elevation’ dialogs is not new. Various flavours of Linux have had it for a while, and it seems to work very well. There is a very fine line to tread. If you don’t ask for admin privileges in enough cases, you present a security hole. If you ask too many times, users begin to ignore the ‘elevation’ messages because they are a pain.

    Vista seems seems to have stepped a little too far onto the ‘messages are a pain’ side of things. When UAC prompts start to reduce your productivity, you have to weigh them up against the lack of productivity of not having UAC. For me, I never had problems with security … UAC just hinders me. I don’t know enough to know whether the average user is helped or hindered by UAC.

    Sure, you can argue that for massive companies, with big IT departments, that UAC is a godsend. For the average Joe like me, they are just a pain. Let me do what I want to do … it’s my computer after all.

  2. Adam says:

    Al – I think whether UAC is there or not is one thing. Whether it does sensible things is another! If you really don’t want UAC you can switch it off – but if you do want it then it needs to behave! I’m always an admin on my computer – so UAC is little more than an annoyance most of the time… just imagine working on a computer where you are not an admin – yet you are being prompted by UAC at times to delete files you just created! That’s got to be annoying.

  3. Ann Chery says:

    I don’t think there’s a way to prevent the injection of rootkits. If someone authorizes the installation of software that also brings a rootkit along with it, the authorization is there.

  4. Symantec does have a vested interest here – the company plans to sell products that smooth out UAC’s alleged faults – but the company’s findings could be evidence of spell additional headaches for system administrators considering Vista.

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