I have been using Vista Beta 2 for a while now and there is one thing that continues to frustrate me. Microsoft has designed the User Account Control (UAC) to work so perfectly that it will be difficult for the average person to switch the default browser. After installing Vista you can open up the Control Panel and the first thing that I do is switch to the classic view. Opening up the Default Programs module and looking at the setting for Internet Explorer reveals that it is set to the default browser:

Vista Default Browser




Not surprising, right? Like Microsoft would ship Vista with Firefox or Opera…even though it would be funny if someone slipped it in before it was sent to RTM :) . That’s besides the point because I just want to download Firefox, install it, and set it to be my default browser so that I don’t have to worry about IE opening up my links. That’s what I did and once I ran Firefox for the first time it asked if I wanted to set it to be the default browser…of course I do!

Vista Default Browser

I continued on with my browsing and when I get done I closed Firefox. Later on I returned to my computer, ran Firefox, and I was presented with the same window asking if I would like to set Firefox as the default browser. At this point I was thoroughly confused and I returned to the Default Programs in the Control Panel only to see that IE is still my default browser! Then it clicks! I have to run Firefox as an administrator so that I am authorizing Vista to change my personal setting. I right-clicked on my Firefox icon and selected “Run As Administrator”:

Vista Default Browser

Then I confirm that I authorized this action:

Vista Default Browser

Finally I agree to set Firefox as my default browser, again! This time it works and if I take a look at the Default Programs in the Control Panel I can see the change I just made:

Vista Default Browser

Is this really a great security feature or just a headache? At first I thought it was a security feature but then I decided to do a little experiment. I opened IE and when I was prompted to switch my default browser back to Internet Explorer I chose the “yes” option. Guess what, it did switch my browser back to Internet Explorer without ever having to run it as an administrator. I am still quite perplexed at this and I am hoping that the issue is on Mozilla’s end for not making the program get the proper permission to change the setting. I really hope this isn’t Redmond’s way of mocking Mozilla’s “Take Back The Web” slogan by replacing it with their own “Take Back The Market Share”.