In older versions of Windows (before Vista), Windows had set user levels and if a user was an Administrator on the machine, anything that user did was at the Administrator level. This could cause problems if a virus or trojan, or some other unwanted program, gained access to your system. You could become infected and not even know it!
Microsoft borrowed from the security and stability of other operating systems such as Unix, Linux, or Mac OS, and introduced a feature called User Account Control (UAC). UAC limits privileges for software applications to those of a standard user (versus an administrator), and only elevates privileges after an administrator authorizes the elevation. This is designed to allow a user to decide if they trust an application before granting it administrative privileges to prevent malware from compromising the entire operating system.
You will see a User Account Control window (and the dimming of everything else on your computer) whenever a software application performs a function requiring administrative privileges, such as when I attempt to change UAC settings:
If the account you are logged in with does not have administrative privileges, you would be required to enter a username and password which does.
Can I disable User Account Control?
You can disable UAC, but it is not something we recommend. UAC does give your computer some protection from rogue software applications (but as well know, not total protection – malware still seems to find its way in). We recommend leaving it active – we don’t see it too often and when we do, it’s quick and easy to determine if it’s doing something I want my computer to be doing.
However, if you still want to disable UAC, here’s how to do it:
How to Disable User Account Control (UAC)
Click on the Start menu.
In the search field, type in UAC and click the Change User Account Control Settings link at the top.
In the User Account Control Settings window, there is a slider with different level of notifications from Always notify to Never notify. If you’d like to disable UAC, drag the slider to the bottom and click OK.
When you click OK, you will receive a UAC confirmation dialog box. Click Yes to save your change.
In the future, you will not receive UAC popups once you disable them.
Installing a Software Program
Software programs for Microsoft Windows 7 typically come with their own setup program. This program installs the software and configures Windows to support the new software. There are thousands of applications you could install, we’ll review the installation process for Firefox, a web browser and common replacement for the built-in browser on Windows, Internet Explorer.
How to Install Mozilla Firefox
Mozilla Firefox is a free, open source web browser which replaces Microsoft Internet Explorer as the browser of choice for millions around the world. You can download Firefox at http://www.getfirefox.com.
Open Internet Explorer to download Firefox.
Type in http://www.getfirefox.com into the Internet Explorer address bar at the top. The address will redirect to the download page.
Click on the Free Download button to download the latest version of Firefox.
You will see a security warning from Internet Explorer. Click Save to save the installation program to your computer. This security warning is there to make sure a piece of bad software such as a malware does not download something without your permission. You want to download Firefox, so it’s ok to continue.
Now, you will be presented with the Save As dialog box. By default, it will open in your Downloads folder – it’s fine to save it there. If you don’t want to save it there, navigate to another folder. In the screenshot above, you will see I am downloading it to my desktop.
The file will now download. Once it’s complete, navigate to the folder you saved the setup program in (most likely your download folder). To find the file, click the Start menu, select Computer. On the left, click on the Downloads link. This will open your downloads folder.
Find the Firefox Setup 3.x icon and double-click on it.
You’ll see a security alert, click Run to continue. The setup files will extract.
Click Yes on the User Account Control dialog box.
Firefox setup will start. Click Next> to move forward with installation.
Leave the Standard radio button selected and click Next >.
Click Next or Install to continue.
Click Finish. Firefox is now installed.
Removing a Software Application
There will come a time when you need to remove a software application on your computer. Perhaps it’s an old version, you need to free up space, or you just don’t want a software program installed. Here’s how to uninstall software in Windows 7:
Click on the Start menu. Click Control Panel.
Click Uninstall a program under the Programs section.
The Programs and Features control panel opens. It contains a list of all of the programs installed on your computer. Scroll down until you find the program you want to uninstall.
Click on the program you want to uninstall and then click on the Uninstall button at the top
Follow the application setup program to uninstall the software program.
Setting Default Programs
For many years, Microsoft has been fighting antitrust lawsuits from governments worldwide and as a part of the settlement with the US government, Microsoft has defined a “default program” setting for you to define what application opens up with something needs to start a Web browser or email. If you don’t desire to use Internet Explorer or Windows Mail, you could set a different default program. For example, I prefer to surf the web using Firefox and not Internet Explorer, so my default web browser is set to Firefox. In this section of the free Windows 7 tutorial, we’re going to explore how to manage the default programs and change them, if necessary.
How to Set Default Programs in Windows 7
Click on the Start menu.
Click on the Default Programs link on the right-hand column of the Start menu.
Click on the Set your default programs option.
You will see a list of programs on the left. Click on one, such as Firefox or Internet Explorer to see the options available.
You have two options available, Set this program as default, which will set the program to the default for all of the file types and protocols it can open, or Choose defaults for this program, which allows you to set which protocols and file types to open.
Normally, I would like Firefox to handle all web browsing activities, but I will click on Choose defaults for this program for you to see the file types and protocols it will open.
As you see in the list, Firefox handles web pages (such as .html) and web protocols (such as HTTP). If you double-click on a .html file in Windows Explorer, Firefox will open. If you select an HTTP link in an email, Firefox will load for that as well. We could selectively choose file types or protocols for Firefox to handle and for Internet Explorer to handle.
If you make any changes, click Save, and then click OK to close the Set Default Programs window.
Turning Windows Features On and Off
By default, not every feature of Windows is installed nor enabled. This is because a majority of users do not need every possible feature and some, such as the IIS web server, could cause more harm than good. However, if you do need one of these other Windows features, you can easily turn them on in Windows 7.
Installing Additional Windows Features
Click on the Start menu.
Select Control Panel.
Click on Programs in the control panel.
Click on the Turn Windows features on or off at the top.
Select the feature you would like to install in Windows 7. We’re going to install the Telnet Client. Telnet allows you to connect to servers via the command line interface and we occasionally need to do so for testing mail servers. Scroll down the list and select Telnet Client then click OK.
Windows will make the necessary changes. During this time, User Account Control may popup. When the process is complete, the window will close and your feature will be installed.
In this section, you learned about how to work with programs in Microsoft Windows 7: how to install them, uninstall them, configure default programs, and how to enable Windows features. In the next section, we will explore networking in Windows 7.