Chapter 3: Fine-Tuning Windows Vista’s Appearance and Performance
Understanding User Account Control and Its Impact on
User Account Control (UAC) is a collection of features designed to improve your
computer’s security and better protect it from malicious programs. UAC fundamen-
tally changes the way Windows Vista works.
User Accounts and Permissions
Windows Vista has two general types of user accounts:
• Standard user accounts
• Administrator user accounts
As we’ll discuss in Chapter 18, standard users can perform any general computing
tasks, such as starting programs, opening documents, and creating folders, as well as
any support tasks that do not affect other users or the security of the computer.
Administrators, on the other hand, have complete access to the computer and can
make changes that affect other users and the security of the computer.
Unlike earlier releases of Windows, Windows Vista makes it easy to determine
which tasks standard users can perform and which tasks administrators can per-
form. You may have noticed the multicolored shield icon, shown in Figure 3-3, next
to certain options in Windows Vista’s windows, wizards, and dialog boxes. This is
the Permissions icon. It indicates that the related option requires administrator per-
missions to run.
Permission and Consent Prompting
In Windows Vista, regardless of whether you are logged on as a standard user or as
an administrator, you see a UAC prompt whenever you attempt to perform a task
that requires administrator permissions. The way the prompt works depends on
whether you are logged on with a standard user account or with an Administrator
If you are logged on with a standard user account, you are prompted to provide
administrator credentials, as explained here and shown in Figure 3-4:
Figure 3-3. The Permissions icon, which indicates that the related option requires administrator
permissions to run