Microsoft is heavily pitching Windows 8 to be its most user-centric effort yet. One such feature is the ability to sync settings between different computers, so that users can have a similar and more seamless experience moving from one machine to the next.
This means that a Windows 8 user, if he or she chooses, can share settings and personalization between home and work or school computers, or perhaps even between multiple machines within the same home.
Katie Frigon, Group Program Manager at Microsoft, details in the B8 blog that it signing into Windows 8 using a Windows Live ID allows the user to:
- 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 websites 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.
Check out how it all works in the video below:
Of course, security and privacy is a major concern of having things such as password and browser history synced to the cloud. For those who prefer to keep things private, this Windows Live ID sign-in is completely optional. Also, users can also selectively disable the syncing and storage of certain sensitive items.
Frigon explains other measures in place to guard a user's privacy:
We’ve taken measures to safeguard the ID and password you use to sign in to Windows. We do this in a couple ways. First, we will require a strong password (and you can’t leave password blank). Next, we’ll collect a secondary proof of your identity. This will allow us to establish “trust” with specific PCs that you use frequently or own. This in turn will also enable more secure syncing of private data like passwords. Collecting the secondary proof of your identity also helps make account recovery easier and more secure. Examples of secondary proofs are alternative email addresses, mobile phone numbers, and questions with secret answers—something that generally only you will know.
You might also be wondering, “what happens if somehow my Windows Live ID gets stolen?” Well, we have some help for you there too. Windows Live ID includes a number of different safety features to detect if your account is stolen, and it will change your account to a “compromised” state (limiting what it can do) until you can regain control of your account using the two-factor authentication features (secondary proofs) that you set up earlier. Importantly, you will still have full access to your PC, since your PC will allow you to log in with the password you had before your account was stolen – you just won’t be able to use the services and applications that rely on this ID until you go through our “recover my account” workflow online.