The new OS will let users log in with their Windows Live IDs, allowing them to more easily synchronize the same files and settings across multiple PCs.
Lance WhitneyContributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Windows 8 will offer people the option of logging in with a Windows Live ID, giving them the ability to access the same files and settings across multiple PCs.
Describing the new integration in the latest Building Windows 8 blog post, Katie Frigon, group program manager of Microsoft's You-Centered Experience team, pointed to the obstacles people face today when using more than one computer. Each PC may have its own unique Windows settings and customizations and store different files and documents, creating a challenge when switching from one computer to another.
To remove that challenge, logging in to Windows 8 with a Windows Live account will let people store and synchronize key files and settings in the cloud and across multiple PCs, ensuring that each computer can access the same content and have the same look and feel.
"Settings such as your lock screen picture, desktop background, user tile, browser favorites and history, spell check dictionaries, Explorer settings, mouse settings, and accessibility settings, among many others are now associated with your Windows 8 account and stored in the cloud," explained Frigon. "They are kept in sync and come down to each machine you use as they are changed or updated."
Specifically, logging in with a Windows Live ID will offer the following benefits, according to Frigon:
Associate the most commonly used Windows settings with your user account. Saved settings are available when you sign in to your account on any Windows 8 PC. Your PC will be set up just the way you are used to.
Easily reacquire your Metro style apps on multiple Windows 8 PCs. The app's settings and last-used state persist across all your Windows 8 PCs.
Save sign-in credentials for the different apps and Web sites you use and easily get back into them without having to enter credentials every time.
Automatically sign in to apps and services that use Windows Live ID for authentication.
Though Microsoft sees the new integration as a benefit, Frigon stressed that using Windows Live to store and sync your files and settings is flexible as well as optional. You can choose which settings you want to sync. Or you can avoid the cloud entirely by opting to use a local account to log in to each Windows 8 PC separately.
For those who want to sync their content online, Frigon said that there are some safeguards in place to try to protect your data. Windows Live requires the use of a strong password, so no passwords like "12345" are allowed. Your account will require additional verification in the form of an alternative e-mail address, cell phone number, or question with secret answers. Your data is also naturally encrypted as it's sent back and forth between the cloud.
By uniting Windows Live with Windows 8, Microsoft is hoping to make PCs easier to manage and your data and settings available anywhere you need them.
"We have set out to ensure that each PC user has a truly personal experience that seamlessly bridges their online and offline tasks, is simpler to set up and use, and persists across their set of Windows 8 PCs," Frigon said. "To do this, we've introduced the ability to log in to Windows (optionally) with a Windows Live ID that works across devices, apps, and services, allowing you a uniquely personal experience with Windows."