Vista, Your new Governess

 By Shamus Jan 11, 2007 14 comments

Jay Barnson has a post talking about how the security warnings in Windows Vista could hurt indie gaming. A couple of important points:

  1. Mandatory and inescapable “Limited User Accounts” (LUAs) make installing a piece of software from the Internet require jumping through many hoops, and clicking through several security warnings. This is likely to scare off (or at least annoy) many users who would otherwise become customers.

  2. The ontrusive security measures extend to the new, tightly integrated “Game Explorer,” which users will come to expect (by design) to find their games. If your game doesn’t register itself with the Game Explorer, it will be a second-class citizen, and may confuse users who won’t be able to find it where it is “supposed” to be.

Leaving aside the white-hot rage I feel at attempts to “help” me organize my computer and create conceptual layers between myself and my files:

The other way this could cut is that the system will undermine itself. If people must endure a “WARNING, DO NOT RUN THIS PROGRAM AS IT MAY INFECT YOUR COMPUTER USING VOODOO AND MIND-CONTROL WAVES” dialog every time they install some piece of software that is obviously safe, then they are going to very quickly learn that these dialogs are paranoid nonsense and disregard them. Soon they will just click OK » OK » OK » Install without even thinking. The dialogs will be the boy who cried wolf.

Right now everyone gets a dialog when installing stuff about how this file might harm their computer, and everyone just clicks OK anyhow. Thousands of people click right through and install all sorts of nasty stuff onto their machines. If the user doesn’t know what they are doing, then there is no combination of nanny dialogs that can keep the machine safe.

On the upside: Depending on how people react, it might not hurt indie games that much. On the downside: It still sucks.

1414 comments. (Fourteen is the sum of the first three squares.)


  1. Kris says:

    Hah. That’s hilarious man. I end up fixing all my friend’s computers after they click one too many “OK” dialogues. *Sighs*

    I doubt Vista will help matters any.

  2. Jacob says:

    Everybody wants more security, but nobody wants to actually put up with the hassle it creates. It’s a catch 22 that MS just has to put up with mostly. The same people griping about all the security warnings are the ones who smugly decried the lack of ability to run in an *actual* limited user account before. The prompts that internet downloaded games endure under Vista are no different than the prompts you get when *anything* installs on Vista–including stuff from Microsoft. While it’s true that most people will just click through them, at least they’ll know that *something* is being installed.

    Additionally, the original article Jay is responding to is from some guy at Wild Tangent who is griping about the prompts thrown up on their games. I find this amusing because I hate installing anything from Wild Tangent. Take the Fate demo, for example, which I installed after reading an excellent review here. I got a couple extra security prompts while installing that sucker on Vista. This is because installing Fate *also* installs a suite of crapware from Wild Tangent. IMHO, this is a feature of Vista, not a bug. I want to know when some company decides to litter my machine with crapware. I *hope* that it has the effect that Wild Tangent fears–people being aware of and hesitating to install stuff that uses crapware.

    As for the Game Explorer, I give that a big meh. I didn’t even notice it until it was pointed out in these articles. It wasn’t enabled by default on my install(s) and it only contains the regular MS freeware you get in the Start|Games folder now. I’m not thinking that’s going to be a popular feature, nor will not being included there cause any real discomfort for game publishers.

  3. I agree with the above on Wild Tangent. That thing seems to soak in more resources than it ought. Uninstalling it has sped up more than one machine.

    I really wish you could choose the level of hand-holding that Windows presents. I hate that little thing that pops up and tells me there are unused icons on my desktop. “Yes, thanks, I knew that, I put them there for some use at some point. Will you stop asking?” “No.”

  4. I’m taking a wait-and-see attitude, myself. But I am interested in seeing what some of these early adopters / early developers are having to wade through. It concerns me, and it’s a worrying trend, but I’m not panicking yet.

  5. Fred says:

    Crapware/Malware company publicly whines about Vista actually constraining their efforts to fuck with your computer. News at 11.

  6. Robert says:

    You can actually turn off this feature in control panel. So you really don’t *have* to put up with the endless chicken-little dialogs if you don’t want to.

  7. Tom Zunder says:

    Vista confuses authentication with approval.

  8. Deoxy says:

    Actually, that’s a minor problem compared to the OTHER problems with Vista, mostly related to “security”, by which they mean security for OTHER people.

    Go look into the “premium content” protection they are building in:
    http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.txt

    That ought to frighten the poop right out of you.

    As to REAL security…

    “Everybody wants more security, but nobody wants to actually put up with the hassle it creates.”

    I disagree with that. I want more security, and the kind of hassles that security would create is… nothing.

    I want the operating system to actually, you know, BE SECURE. Not have some “hidden vulnerability” found every other week, where a hacker can gain root access with a kiddie script in about 2 milliseconds.

    Of course, that might not really be considered “security”… it might just be “working properly”, something no MS operating system has ever been particularly good at.

    And I say that as a professional MS user, unfortunately.

  9. Telas says:

    I’m running Vista at home and on the laptop.

    The notices are simply, “Did you want to install this?” questions. They’re not the obscure “Logo Testing” comments that scare many users.

    I haven’t dug into it, but I imagine that there is a fairly granular control mechanism, where you don’t get quizzed when entering the Computer Management window, but do when installing new software.

  10. Myxx says:

    I’m pissed off at Vista. I’ve been running it for a while now, and am about ready to reinstall XP. Why? Man, nothing is easy. I have to click 5 times to run friggin remote desktop, connecting to VNC through ActiveX is miserable, and there are all these System Tray icons telling me about programs that Windows prevented from running at startup. Well, don’t stop them. I never asked you to, and in fact, I want them running. Too bad I can’t get Vista to just let them run.

    I’m running Vista Ultimate, but not Beta, and my hardware is just fine. I’m just irked at how complicated Vista makes the easy stuff. I barely even use my laptop anymore just because it’s running Vista. I may come around at some point, but for now, I’m going to keep using my XP Pro system. Perhaps a dual-boot is in my future.

  11. AndrewNZachsDad says:

    Vista deals with things in a manner quite different from XP. Therefore, if you are a skilled XP user (as many of us are), you will find Vista to be a big change. This does not make it bad, just different. My experience (exclusively from a tech support standpoint, as I have not yet installed it on any of my systems) is that once people begin to understand what causes the “annoying messages” they will start to recognize the protection supplied. Also, for virtually any message or issue you run into with XP you can find reams of instruction on the ‘net for changing/fixing it. Vista is brand new, so we are stuck with waiting for someone else to come up with something, or sorting it out ourselves, if we’re lucky enough to have the capability.
    My favourite comments come from customers who say “I run my business on this system. I need it to be working.” These are inevitably the same people who purchased a portable system and opted for the cheaper depot service contract instead of paying more to have an onsite tech sent to them. They then complain when advised that the system will be returned in working order within a week. If your business is so important (which I do understand) why do you a) cheap out on the service instead of getting the one you actually need, b) manage business with a single computer (normally without backups), and c) use untried and untested products? These things are a recipe for a failed business, but you have no one to blame but yourself. This will not stop them from trying to blame me, however…
    Sheesh.

  12. Veylon says:

    I got Sins of a Solar Empire and it said it had to launch from the Game Explorer. My first reaction: what’s that?

    Oddly, when I found it, there was Sins alright, but also StarCraft, Total Annihilation, Dungeon Keeper, etc. that where made long before Game Explorer existed. Does anyone know how they got there? Did Microsoft hard-code a list of games that would get recognized, or what?

  13. Gilf says:

    …Total Annihilation…

    Wait wait wait, HOLD IT. Vista recognizes Total Annihilation? The RTS that got completely (and undeservedly, but that’s just my opinion) eclipsed by Starcraft and fell into obscurity faster than disappearing ink? Wow.

  14. HeroOfHyla says:

    “the white-hot rage I feel at attempts to “help” me organize my computer and create conceptual layers between myself and my files”
    This struck a chord with me, mostly because of Windows 7′s “Libraries” feature. Apparently “My Pictures” is only a subset of the “pictures” library, and if I save stuff to “Libraries/Pictures” it may or may not save in the “My Pictures” folder. If I type “My Pictures” into the navigation bar on windows explorer, it takes me to “Libraries/Pictures.” In there is the folder “, but along with several other folders.

    Then I found out that the folder called ” is actually stored as “” on the disc. So some programs (like Steam) that don’t use Windows’s file manager call the folder Pictures instead of My Pictures.

    Due to confusion, I accidentally made my own “My Pictures” folder, which now simply does not work with Windows Explorer. The only “My Pictures” that shows up is really “Pictures.” Some programs show 2 “My Pictures” folders next to each other in their file browsers, and some use their disk names, “My Pictures” (the one I made) and “Pictures” (the one Windows calls My Pictures).

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