Microsoft is planning to reduce the number of annoying warning popups appearing in Windows 7. Also known as user account control prompts, these things are proven to all too often either lull us into a robotic state of acceptance (clicking "yes" without reading) or a more active state of wrath. (YES, you stupid computer, I do want to install the Adobe suite that just cost me a month's salary!) The reason Windows programmers are able to reduce the warnings is funny: Most of them come from Windows itself.
We've all been there: The screen goes dark and suddenly Windows is warning us of a potential threat to our very lives! Even though this occasionally draws our attention to malware that's trying to sneak in, internal Microsoft studies show that the UAC prompts have been a security threat as well as a sanity challenger. But it's apparently self-inflicted, as 29 of the top 50 UAC prompts in Vista SP1 are Windows components.
According to Ben Fathi, a programmer who blogs on the Engineering Win 7 site, another leading cause of annoyance is duplicate warnings: IE7 will point out something, and then Windows will go and point out the same thing. Even if it is a threat—and it very likely could be—the redundance factor gets people all grumpy.
What makes us happy is that—long before Win 7 is in beta release—Microsoft already knows this, and has compiled a list of the challenges for the team:
• Reduce unnecessary or duplicated prompts in Windows and the ecosystem, such that critical prompts can be more easily identified.
• Enable our customers to be more confident that they are in control of their systems.
• Make prompts informative such that people can make more confident choices.
• Provide better and more obvious control over the mechanism.