Big Screen Blog

Media Center, Windows Phone7 + Silverlight Goodness..

Mac vs PC ‘Security’ Ad gets it right for a change..

with 6 comments

The "I’m a Mac, I’m a PC" ad campaign from Apple has provided a constant source of amusement for me since it started – and it’s one of the only ads I watch when skipping through the break on Media Center (just to see what they will come up with next).

For the most part – I’m convinced it’s just designed purely to make Mac owners feel ‘Smug’ about their purchase – and the majority of the claims they peddle in these adds are pretty obviously BS to anyone who actually uses a PC. For example one of their newer ads claim you can’t get a PC with a Camera built in (hmm.. so I wonder what that round thing is on my acer laptop.. i think apple just dont get the whole user choice/customization concept)..

However, one of their new(er) ads New Mac ad- ‘Security’ on YouTube – which deals with ‘UAC’ – is really spot on – and is squarely aimed at those who are using Vista. (and wouldn’t be understood by others).


I’m constantly plagued by UAC – and unfortunately its an all or nothing affair. I leave it switched on for two reasons:  I need to simulate the environment standard end users will experience for my consumer software – and secondly I actually do want some security running (but would happily settle for something a lot less extreme).

The biggest issue for me is the way that the UAC prompts are presented. I run 3 monitors – and part of the User experience is that all your screens are dimmed so that the UAC dialog is visible. At this point too – the desktop is disabled and you must interact with UAC dialog before you can do anything else. For some of my required day to day apps for development – Aero glass sometimes gets disabled for my desktop – so this makes things look even more cruddy during a UAC prompt (and the screens go black instead).

The worst part though is that my monitors spit the dummy – and actually get some sort of video mode change sent through (resulting in the monitor’s own status/refresh messages appearing on the middle of the screen) – so i can have an outage of 1-2 seconds while this is occuring.

So my number one request for vNext is to make this UAC process a *lot* cleaner and more intelligent – and allow for some half way approaches. For example

– if an Explorer Window has been launched ‘As Administrator’ – then UAC should be toned down (ie. dont ask for ‘allows’ everytime you install an MSI or delete some directory instantiated from this window!).

– if you mark a shortcut on your start menu as ‘Run as Administrator’ (i do this for VS2005 for example) – dont ask for permission every time its launched!…

Also please please please – dont dim the monitor – and dont make UAC dialogs modal (often it may take 10-30 seconds for an MSI to actually decide it needs Admin priveldges – and by this time Im already focused on a different program).


Written by mobilewares

March 6, 2007 at 1:38 am

Posted in Vista MediaCenter

6 Responses

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  1. Yeah I find it doesn’t bother me so much now, VS and IIS on launch every day. But the whole changing video modes is sooo annoying! I thought it was just me running an external monitor from a laptop.
    BTW Chuck mentioned you pretty heavily in a presentation today at the QLD.NET meeting as the media centre guy in Australia – all good things 😉


    March 6, 2007 at 4:06 am

  2. After the initial setup I haven’t been prompted enough for it to be a bother, and it has saved me several time on the web already. As for your issues with changing video modes, just check the group policy settings. There is one to make it not use the secure desktop, that will show the prompts with the normal videos.


    March 6, 2007 at 4:49 am

  3. (no name) – Thats a damm cool tip!  I’ve just set my group policy and its a whole lot nicer an experience now – and will change this on all the other boxes too!  It now actually looks like that sleek security guy on the Mac ad rather than Mr Bean! (and I thought Apple were being nice on that bit).. 8)
    (John) try this tip out it rocks!… And thanks Chuck for the mentions and support! (if you’re reading) ..


    March 6, 2007 at 5:25 am

  4. I despise the UAC. I understand why you leave it turned on but it is of no value. (I have it turned off on my machines and advise customers to do the same.) Since the average user will see the UAC with some frequency they will learn to ignore it and just click thru. So what is the benefit of such an awful, intrusive and poorly crafted security feature?Sorry for you troubles but I will be surprised if anything is done about the UAC within the next year. I do feel your pain and frustration.


    March 6, 2007 at 12:13 pm

  5. couldn’t agree more, UAC is rubbish. Not only is it annoying but it breaks functionality often too, many apps simply do not install correctly even when it elevates permissions, for example the windows 2003 administration tools (adminpak.msi).

    If you have to leave it on, you can at least disable the screen blanking at when it prompts:



    March 6, 2007 at 8:08 pm

  6. This survey is hilarious! Mac v. PC


    April 18, 2007 at 5:33 pm

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