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Windows 8.1: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Authenticate Yourself: User Account Control

You can’t work in Windows 8 very long before encountering the dialog box shown in Figure 24-7. It appears anytime you install a new program or try to change an important setting on your PC. (Throughout Windows, a colorful icon next to a button or link indicates a change that will produce this message box.)

Clearly, Microsoft chose the name User Account Control (UAC) to put a positive spin on a fairly intrusive security feature; calling it the IYW (Interrupt Your Work) box probably wouldn’t have sounded like so much fun.

Why do these boxes pop up? In the olden days, nasties like spyware and viruses could install themselves invisibly, behind your back. That’s because Windows ran in Administrative mode all the time, meaning it left the door open for anyone and anything to make important changes to your PC. Unfortunately, that included viruses.

Windows 8, on the other hand, runs in Standard mode all the time. Whenever somebody or some program wants to make a big change to your system—something that ought to have the permission of an administrator (Administrator accounts)—the UAC box alerts you. If you click Continue, Windows elevates (opens) the program’s permissions settings just long enough to make the change.

Most of the time, you are the one making the changes, which can make the UAC box a bit annoying. But if that UAC dialog box ever appears ...

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