It's always a yes/no, and the whole os halts when installing a new app.

Maybe it was this way with Vista, but it wasn't for XP/2000.

I agree that Windows 7 is an improvement, but I don't understand why the screen must go dark whenever installing/uninstalling.

It halts everything for a simple confirm-that-I-want-to-proceed. I always answer yes.

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    How is this different then having to sudo a command in Linux/OS X? Security isn't easy and it is often something that consumes time, the process of verifying you actually want to run the software, is what makes sudo and UAC good additions to operating systems. – Ramhound Sep 17 '13 at 16:19
  • @Ramhound I don't want my screen to go completely dark. Why would I want that? – Niklas R. Sep 17 '13 at 16:50
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    @909Niklas see my comment on the answer below for the rational behind the black screen. – Frank Thomas Sep 17 '13 at 16:51
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    @909Niklas - Because it allows you to be 100% sure its a legit request. – Ramhound Sep 17 '13 at 17:09

This is a feature of Windows User Account Control. As you seem to understand, it's a security feature to prevent unwanted software from installing itself in the background without your permission.

The "screen must go dark" part is a setting that can be changed by lowering the User Account Control Settings security level down by one. If you do this, it will still ask for confirmation, but it won't force everything else to stop and wait for an answer.

You can also disable it entirely by lowering that setting all the way, and it won't force you to confirm everything (Not recommended)

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    What's nice about UAC is that any malicious software will ask you permission before it wreaks havoc. Turn it off and you're saying "go ahead viruses, it's open season on my PC!" – user201262 Sep 17 '13 at 15:54
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    Exactly! So please don't disable UAC. It's really one of the main reasons that Win7 is so much more "secure" than WinXP. – dotVezz Sep 17 '13 at 15:59
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    Note, the screen goes dark so that malware can't just click the 'Yes' button automatically. the contents of the black screen are their own session which cannot be interacted with by software running in the desktop session. amusingly enough, on voice-activated systems, several hackers have had success playing a sound of someone saying 'Yes' in order to click the yes button however. – Frank Thomas Sep 17 '13 at 16:50

This is a security feature called User Account Control. Whenever a program requires administrative privileges, Windows asks the user for confirmation. This prevents potentially malicious software from accessing important files and settings without the user's consent. More specifically, in this scenario, UAC prevents an application from installing without permission.

By default, Windows tries to create a controlled environment (called 'secure desktop') to present these messages in, by darkening the rest of the screen and temporarily halting other programs. This additional layer of security can be disabled. Doing so allows malware to interfere with the UAC boxes and is therefore recommended only in cases where dimming the desktop takes an exceptionally long time.

The behaviour of UAC can be configured through the Control Panel, User Accounts, 'Change user Account Control settings' or by clicking 'Change when these messages appear' whenever a UAC message pops up.

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