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How User Account Control uses Virtualization to protect the system.
When a standard user is logged into a Windows based computer, there are certain activities and actions that need to be protected. This protection is not always successful, as some versions of Windows do not protect the overall system as much as anyone would hope. Actions that need to be protected is the modification or writing to system folders and system locations in the Registry. This is essential to protect the overall stability and security of the operating system. Windows Vista provides an excellent solution to help protect these key system areas. Vista uses User Account Control and Virtualization to accomplish the security and protection. This article discusses and exposes how UAC uses Virtualization to protect the system.
Protecting System Files with UAC Virtualization (Part 1)
Protecting System Files with UAC Virtualization (Part 2)
another (old) article showing what UAC does