UAC in Windows 7
Microsoft has recognised that User Account Control (UAC) is one of the most controversial features in Vista, and promised to take a hard look at it in Windows 7.
First impressions of the new UAC are good - with intermediate settings introduced to inform you of attempts to install new programs, and when an app tries to change settings. It's less intrusive than Vista's alert-about-everything setting, and more secure than that operating system's only alternative - no UAC protection at all.
Should you install Windows 7?
In-depth details about these features and more are included in our Windows 7 review (which we'll continue to update until the final version is available), but the question on many people's lips is "should I install Windows 7?".
Microsoft said the Windows 7 beta would be available to the public until the end of January, but the company is only opening the beta to the first 2.5m people who sign up. And the beta is due to expire on 1 August 2009, at which time testers will probably be forced to revert to Vista SP1.
After two days playing with the new OS, I've yet to find any major problems with it. At the same time, it's not a major breakthrough in performance or productivity - it feels almost like a bumper Service Pack for Windows Vista, similar to what SP2 did for Windows XP.
So, if you can't wait to get your hands on the new OS, and are comfortable with fixing your own OS problems should they appear, you have just over two weeks to download the beta. If you'd prefer to stay well clear, keep an eye on our Windows 7 coverage, and use the comments section below to let us know of new Windows 7 features you'd like to hear more about.