I have run afoul of a Windows 7 "feature". Whenever the volume control is touched, either by me or by a running app, the speaker automatically unmutes. This is a problem for me because I use my laptop for making professional presentations and I generally mute the speaker to prevent extraneous computer generated noise from detracting from the presentation. If I accidently touch the volume control on the laptop (the physical controls) or an app running in the background wants to set the volume control, I get "ding-ding-ding" in the middle of my presentation. Very unprofessional.
I have learned from a Microsoft representative that this is "as-designed" and is an "industry standard". When asked if there was any way to configure this, via a control panel setting or registry setting, the answer was no. Apparently Microsoft has decided that this should be the standard behavior starting with Windows 7 and there is no way to disable it other than to remove the speaker/volume control drivers. I have asked that that this be revisted and the answer was that there are not enough requests for this to make it an issue. In the meantime, it is a HUGE issue for me.
Do any of the good folks here know a way around this behavior other than removing the drivers?