User Account Control or UAC is one of the most annoying new features in Windows Vista (7 Steps to Delete a Shortcut! – give me a break). Microsoft has promised to tone it down in Windows 7, but you don’t need to wait for Windows 7 to make UAC more bearable.
Norton has released a free utility called Norton UAC Tool that replaces Windows Vista’s standard UAC prompt. The most significant change that Norton has made is adding the “Don’t ask me again” option. This allows you to add day-to-day harmless actions to the whitelist and makes UAC significantly less annoying. Besides this the Norton UAC Tool also displays a modified version of the UAC prompts – which I find to be more informative.
However, it must be noted that Norton is using this beta tool to collect information like applications used by you. This is what the official website has to say :
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.
Each time you see a prompt, the Norton Labs UAC Replacement sends meta information about what caused the prompt, and why, to our server. This data will be used, in aggregate, to help Norton Labs build a white list that can be shipped with the UAC replacement and LiveUpdated as needed.
The meta information contains file name and file hashes for the EXE that caused the prompt and the EXE that is to be the recipient of the elevated privileges. In addition, the meta information contains file name and file hashes for DLLs that were active in either of the two EXEs, response information (what option did the user choose, how quickly, and did they choose “do not ask me again”), and date/time info.
You can however opt out of the information sharing program. During the installation process it asks if you wish to “Enable Submission on UAC prompts“. Make sure you dont select this option while installing if you dont wish to share data.
After ruining it’s reputation with some pathetic products (Norton Antivirus 2004-2008) Norton finally seems to be doing things right. Norton Antivirus 2009 was a huge surprise thanks to it’s impressive detection rate and super low system resource usage. Norton UAC tool is still rough around the edges and has many bugs – but that’s expected from a beta product. However, undoubtedly its an extremely handy tool and will hopefully make disabling the UAC a less tempting option.