What is a Microsoft Account?

What is a Microsoft Account?

If you own several machines, then you would have experienced the annoyance of setting up each machine. Create an account; personalize it – setting your own wallpaper, customizing power options, customizing the taskbar, etc. It might be fun to set it once. But doing the same settings in every machine becomes really boring.

Microsoft Account to the rescue!

Types of User Accounts in Windows 8

  • Local Account: It is basically a normal user account comprising of username and password. It has the same functionalities as seen in existing Windows systems. The limitation of a local account is that it remains constrained to the specific system. The settings and data of the local account can’t be synced and shared across several machines.
  • Microsoft Account: It is essentially an email id, accompanied with a password. The email id doesn’t have to be a Microsoft Live Id. It can be an email id from any mail service. The main advantage of using Microsoft Account as a user account is the ability to share your data and settings across several devices running Windows 8 – be it a PC, a tablet, or a smartphone.

Thus, you only need to create a Microsoft Account once. Then, you can use it on all the machines that you own. Customize your settings in any one of it, and they will sync and appear in all of them, courtesy of Microsoft Account.

The extent to which your data and settings can be synced is simply amazing:

  • All your personalized settings like theme, language preferences, browser settings, etc. Even taskbar customization gets synced! For example, I am lazy. I place my taskbar to the right edge of the screen so that I can bring my mouse to the taskbar with the least possible movement. When I signed in with my Microsoft Account in another PC, the taskbar automatically positioned itself on the right edge. Even my preferred “auto-hide the taskbar” feature was on by default!


  • In case you have services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. connected to your Microsoft Account, then the contact information of all these services – status updates, tweets, photos, etc. – will also be synced to the cloud, and across all your machines. Your contact information will, thus, remain up to date on any device. You won’t need to connect to all the services on every machine. You do it once and it will follow you everywhere.
  • Now here comes the big pleasant surprise: All the metro apps get synced, too! If you buy/install a metro app in a machine, it will be available for you to install in the next machine you sign your Microsoft Account in.
  • Even the settings of all the metro apps remain in sync. For example, “Mail” app will sync and share the configuration settings across all the devices so that you don’t have to go through the hassle of configuring mail accounts again and again. The photos stored in “Photos” app (from various services like Flickr, Facebook, etc., and through local storage) will get automatically synced to the cloud through your Microsoft Account, so that you can access them from other devices, too.

If you don’t have a Microsoft Account yet, better create it when your Windows 8 machine comes home. It is going to be a killer feature in Windows 8.

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