Update on Windows 7 UAC Debate

While Microsoft has maintained that UAC (User Account Control) is not a security control, and that the behavior of UAC in Windows 7 is by design in response to the feedback and negative publicity that UAC has received in Windows Vista, they have now announced that there will be some modifications of UAC behavior between the Windows 7 Beta and Windows 7 Release Candidate versions. A follow-up post on the Engineering Windows 7 blog last week stated:

“With this feedback and a lot more we are going to deliver two changes to the Release Candidate that we’ll all see. First, the UAC control panel will run in a high integrity process, which requires elevation. That was already in the works before this discussion and doing this prevents all the mechanics around SendKeys and the like from working. Second, changing the level of the UAC will also prompt for confirmation.”

Many in the Windows 7 Beta community seem to be upset about the change of direction or consider it some sort of flaw or sign of weakness on the part of Microsoft that they have responded this way. It seems to me like Microsoft is held to an unreasonable standard by certain groups of users. It reminds me of how ‘flip-flopping’ becomes such an issue during election seasons. No company (or politician) is perfect. It is an unrealistic expectation to demand that they get it all right the first time. To take that lack of realism a step farther and also expect that the company (or politician) never alter or modify their position, even in the face of rational, logical evidence that counters the original position is ridiculous. Having conviction and a stubborn determination to stick to an initial decision regardless of evidence to the contrary is a huge character flaw and not a desirable characteristic for a company or a politician.

It creates a no-win situation for the company- their damned if they leave things the way they are, and they’re damned if they modify their course in response to feedback. For the record though, this is BETA software. The whole point is to elicit feedback from the user community and make modifications prior to the RC or final RTM versions of the operating system. If they weren’t going to listen to and respondto user feedback, this would be RTM already.

Personally, I say ‘Thank You’ to Microsoft for listening and responding to the user feedback. I also reiterate my appreciation for the sense of community and the open dialogue being fostered by Microsoft with the Windows 7 Beta and the Engineering Windows 7 blog.

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