Security by Lawyers – Vista’s Elevation Prompts

If you’ve tried Vista, you’ve no doubt been hit with the onslaught of “elevation prompts” for tasks that need to run with elevated privileges.  The messages are so frequent, they almost read like this:  “You’ve clicked on the Disk Defragmenter button.  Did you really mean to click the Disk Defragmenter button?”  Uh, hello?  Vista?  You mean someone else might have clicked on it?

I really appreciate that Microsoft is trying to solve the security issues they’ve had in the past.  That part is great.  The problem is that the solution doesn’t fix the problem.  As a user, Vista inundates you with “Do you want to do XYZ” so frequently that you become completely numb to the problem.  The message descriptions are obtuse, and your choices blur together.  In the end, you conclude, “damnit, just do what I say” and click yes.  If there was a real reason for the alert, the user doesn’t know and clicked through anyway.

I’m sure the lawyers at Microsoft are happy, though.  Vista provides a credible argument that Microsoft did warn you before something bad happened.  But it’s really like reading the End-User-License-Agreement (EULA) that comes with any website or software package these days – nobody reads them.  In the end, the lawyers are protected, and the users are left with unintelligible gobbledygook that just slows them down.

What we really wanted, Microsoft, was warnings about errors.  What you gave us, was a warning about anything we do normally that might be an error.   And unfortunately, 99.9% of the time, it is not an error!  So, the prompts you’ve just displayed are basically useless (except to the lawyers).

If you aren’t planning on suing Microsoft anyway, I stumbled upon this great tip by way of Omar for how to turn the damn things off.

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