How to fix Windows Vista's worst shortcomings

We address some of the biggest gripes users have with Vista and help you to get the operating system Microsoft intended.


It's hardly a secret that Windows Vista hasn't been Microsoft's most popular launch. Many of its features seem decorative rather than useful and some of them - most notably User Account Control (UAC) - are downright restrictive. Does it really need to warn us when we're about to adjust the clock by a couple of minutes or start a manual backup we initiated?

While some people need their hands holding when performing straightforward software installations, most of us find UAC's constant demands for confirmation that we really want to proceed with an action we initiated in the first place a teeth-clencher.

Another well-meaning but poorly implemented Vista feature is its firewall. Windows XP was roundly criticised for its lax security and its inbound-only firewall. Vista has a two-way firewall, but its default setting is Off. In this state it can do nothing about what your system sends out.

Since an infected PC can mass-mail spam and forward your credit-card numbers to someone who doesn't have your best interests at heart, that's an important shortcoming.

A useful addition to Vista would have been an automated backup tool that allowed you to save data without even trying. While you can return your PC to a prior state should anything go wrong, Previous Versions can save your settings and files to an external drive from whence you can recover it.

Here, we address some of the biggest gripes users have with Vista. We show you how to alter their settings or dump unwanted features in favour of tools that can do their intended task so much better.

1. UAC is a royal pain. If you're an administrator, fortunately, you can turn it off. Select Start, Control Panel, User Accounts, ‘Turn User Account Control on or off'. Select Continue at the UAC prompt and then untick ‘Use User Account Control (UAC) to help protect your computer'. Click ok.

Fix Vista's worst shortcomings: Step 1

2. Having reset UAC, you may occasionally be warned that it's switched off when you start up your Vista PC. TweakUAC can turn off UAC for administrator accounts while leaving it on for everyone else. Simply run the program, select ‘Switch UAC to the quiet mode' and click ok.

Fix Vista's worst shortcomings: Step 2

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