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Vista's Flaws Surface Again on Eve of Windows 7 Beta

Attendees of the International Conference on Cyber Security 2009 in New York Tuesday were reminded of the shortcomings of Windows Vista a day before Microsoft is expected to reveal the first beta for its follow-up, Windows 7.

Microsoft Investigative Consultant Michael Dunner asked attendees how many of them have used Vista as he gave a presentation on the security differences between that OS and Windows 7.

When people in the audience raised their hands, Dunner then asked, "How many of you like it?" Only about half of those who acknowledged using Vista raised their hands.

Dunner also called Vista's User Account Control (UAC) feature "annoying" and one of its "biggest problems," to which one audience member responded, "Yes, it is annoying."

Problems with UAC have been widely publicized and even spoofed by television commercials from competitor Apple. The feature was meant to improve the security of Vista by preventing users without administrative privileges from making unauthorized changes to a PC. But because of how it was set up, it can prevent even authorized users from being able to access applications and features through a series of screen prompts that interrupt normal user workflow to ask for account privileges.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is expected to unveil the Windows 7 beta during his keynote Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Microsoft has publicly acknowledged the limitations of UAC. The company has called it one of Vista's most "controversial" features and has said it will improve the feature in Windows 7 to make it more efficient and to reduce the number of prompts users receive.

Dunner's comments and the lackluster audience response to Vista Tuesday was evidence of users' overall disappointment with the OS, which many view as a failure for Microsoft. In addition to problems consumers have reported, many business customers have opted to skip Vista and run Windows XP until Windows 7 is available.

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