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I have been talking a lot about User Access Control (UAC) lately. I was quoted in the New York Times last week about some of Vista’s fumbles and it brought me back to how bad the UAC interface really is. I have had it disabled for some time now and you can find instructions on how to disable UAC 4 Tips to Speed Up Your Windows Vista PC 4 Tips to Speed Up Your Windows Vista PC Read More here on MakeUseOf. BUT if you think about the UAC like a safety on a pistol, by disabling it you are “living on the edge” and with a bigger chance of an accident taking place.

So if you don’t want to risk shooting yourself in the foot (or somewhere a little more private) then you should check out Norton’s UAC Tool for free here.

vista uac settings

If you are not familiar with Vista’s User Access Control ‘feature’ check out Wikipedia’s definition:

User Account Control (UAC) is a technology and security infrastructure introduced with Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system. It aims to improve the security of Microsoft Windows by limiting application software to standard user privileges until an administrator authorizes an increase in privilege level. In this way, only applications that the user trusts receive higher privileges, and malware should be kept from receiving the privileges necessary to compromise the operating system. In other words, a user account may have administrator privileges assigned to it, but applications that the user runs do not also have those privileges unless they are approved beforehand or the user explicitly authorizes it to have higher privileges.

By disabling the UAC you also disable certain features that Norton makes use of. So Norton came out with a tool that makes you a little less likely to disable the UAC ‘feature’. Choose your location and start your download.

 vista uac disable

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Next choose your version. x86 for 32 bit and the 64 for 64 bit. If you are unsure just grab the x86 file as seen below:

vista uac turn off

Next you will want to let it install and then enable it to replace the normal UAC pop-ups like seen below:

That’s all there is to it! Pretty simple huh? Check out what Norton has to say about their new Beta product:

The User Account Control tool has been designed to replace the Vista UAC, to simultaneously make your system more secure while significantly improving user-friendliness.

By default, any application launched by an administrator is running with a filtered, standard user access token. When the administrator attempts to perform a task, the UAC prompts the user to approve the action. This can lead to poor user experiences because the prompts can be slow to display, and appear frequently and without warning. What’s more, because the UAC may give a false sense of security since other processes can still access the desktop, it actually raises security concerns.

The net effect is that many users find the UAC security clearance and prompting process annoying, especially those who are a computer’s only user and have all the latest Norton Internet Security software installed and updated.

The User Account Control tool will collect user input as well as information on applications causing prompts. The data will be processed to improve the comprehensiveness and robustness of the white list, which will be updatable while running the tool online.

So in short by disabling the UAC you also disable certain features that Norton makes use of. So Norton came out with a tool that makes the UAC easier for you and computing safer for everyone. Wait a minute and it’s free….

Why is it free you might ask?

That is exactly what I was wondering so I decided to dive in a little deeper and check it out. It turns out Norton is willing to hook you up and remember your clicks, making that UAC prompt show up less in exchange for data.

They will collect information on how often and what causes your UAC to pop up. This time Norton sure showed Microsoft how it’s done! You can see from the pictures above and below HUGE improvements over the initial UAC interface.

(Above: New UAC From Norton Labs)

(Above: Old Microsoft UAC Interface.)

The best feature Straight from Norton’s Website:

Q: So… what does this replacement offer me?

A: Currently, the Norton Labs’ UAC replacement offers a “Do not ask me again” option on each prompt making it very easy for the user to squelch individual prompts without fully disabling UAC. Further, the Norton Labs’ UAC replacement displays the prompts in a slightly different way from how Microsoft chose to do it. We feel that our prompts provide a much clearer view of the ratings for the prompting application.

Wow this all looks almost too good to be true! So I went in and perused their privacy policy and everything seems to be on the up and up. This is a lot better than disabling UAC 4 Tips to Speed Up Your Windows Vista PC 4 Tips to Speed Up Your Windows Vista PC Read More and safer than any of the registry hacks around. Way to go Norton!

How do you deal with the UAC? Are you disabling it, living with it or finding another way around it all together? Let us know in the comments!

  1. John
    February 19, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I installed it, but it's not working. I still get the Vista UAC and not the Norton UAC

  2. steve
    October 30, 2008 at 5:18 am

    See the Cooments over at ZDnet about the possible problems with this tool.

  3. Josh
    October 17, 2008 at 12:00 am

    If you've been following the "Engineering Seven" blog a recent post was about UAC and how the number of prompts have fallen dramatically over the last 2 years... like a tenfold decline as developers rewrite their applications from unnessesarily requiring administrator privaliges..

    I think if you try it now you'll find it a lot better. I only get a couple prompts a day now personally.

    Oh, but this tool is very good! =)

  4. Aibek
    October 16, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Same here, it was very annoying so I disabled it. However, I wouldn't recommend doig it to anyone who is not sure what it's all about.

    Some more Vista tips can be found here:

  5. Paul
    October 15, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    I disabled it long time ago, it was too annoying and so far i haven't had any problem. Anyhow, i'll give Norton's UAC a whirl since is free !

    • Shaun [symc]
      October 18, 2008 at 2:27 am

      [disclosure: I am a developer at Symantec and was involved in the Norton UAC tool]

      We decided to write this tool after we noticed two alarming trends with UAC. The first is that some users fully disable UAC - which is a bad workaround to a usability/annoyance issue. The second is that users with UAC enabled get so used to responding to UAC prompts with "allow" that the prompts are often not even read by the user (Chicken Little "the sky is falling syndrome).

      Vista made some great strides in security with the introduction of application isolation, user interface privilege isolation, and file/registry virtualization - all of which made Internet Explorer 7's new protected mode possible. The catch is that turning off UAC disables all of this great new security, which is why we wanted to provide a more user friendly front end to UAC - in the hopes that we can get users to keep UAC enabled (or re-enable it)... so, thanks for your willingness to give the Norton UAC tool a whirl!

      • Joshua
        October 18, 2008 at 8:13 am

        This is true... however as I mentioned below, even though some users turn UAC off... all applications have been re-written over the last 2 years to avoid unnessesary administrator accesss, so the benefits are all round regardless of wether or not the UAC is on.

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