User Account Control is a feature that adds an additional layer of security to the operating systems. User Account Control was first introduced with the release of Microsoft Windows Vista and is now carried forward to all operating systems that are released by Microsoft, including Microsoft Windows 8 Release Preview. By default User Account Control is enabled for all user accounts that reside in all post-Windows XP operating systems, except for the built-in Administrator accounts, which are by default kept disabled for security reasons.
When User Account Control is enabled and users try to perform administrative tasks, they are displayed with a User Account Control confirmation box that asks them if they really want to perform the task that they have initiated. If the account who has initiated the task belongs to Administrators group, the logged on user only needs to click ‘Yes’ button to grant the permission. In this case the operating system never asks for the passwords (as per the default configuration, which can be changed and the OS can be configured to request for the passwords in such cases as well). This type of prompt is technically known as ‘Prompt for Consent’. On the other hand if an account belongs to any non-administrative group (for example ‘Users’ group), the User Account Control confirmation box requests the logged on user to provide administrative credentials (username and password of an account that belongs to Administrators group). This type of prompt is technically called ‘Prompt for Credentials’.
How User Account Control Works
As mentioned above, by default User Account Control (UAC) is enabled for all users except for the built-in Administrator account, all other manually created user accounts that belong to Administrators group get two access tokens at the time of their creations. One access token has limited permissions whereas the other has unrestricted permissions on the computer. When manually created administrator account initiates any non-administrative task, for example opening Microsoft Word, the access token with limited permissions is used. On the other hand, when the same account tries to perform an administrative task, for example opening Windows Registry Editor, the operating system requests for the second access token (the one that has unrestricted privileges) by displaying a User Account Control confirmation box. In order to grant the permission to use the access token with unrestricted privileges, the logged on user must click ‘Yes’ button to proceed.
Standard users (non-administrative user accounts), on the other hand, receive only one access token using which they can perform all non-administrative tasks. If they try to initiate any administrative task, they are prompted with the User Account Control confirmation box (Prompt for Credentials) where they must provide credentials of the administrator account before they can proceed.
Disabling User Account Control
Although it is strongly recommended that User Account Control must never be disabled on any computer, users can still disable it for testing purposes and in lab environments. In order to disable User Account Control on a Microsoft Windows 8 Release Preview computer, administrators must follow the steps given below:
- Log on to Microsoft Windows 8 Release Preview computer with administrator account.
- Only displayed Start window click Desktop icon.
- On the desktop screen, hover the mouse to the bottom right corner of the window and from the display options, click Settings.
- From the side bar that appears, click Control Panel and on the opened window click User Accounts and Family Safety.
- On the next window that appears, click User Accounts and on Make changes to your user account window, click Change User Account Control settings.
- On the opened window, move the slider to the bottom and click OK.
- On the displayed User Account Control confirmation box, click Yes button to disable User Account Control completely.
Note: In order to re-enable User Account Control, move the slider back to its normal position and click ‘OK’. You may need to restart the computer in order to allow the changes to take effect.