Home > Computers and Internet > Setting up accounts for Windows 8

Setting up accounts for Windows 8

Today (29 Feb 2012) is the release day for Windows 8 Consumer Preview. One of the great features of Windows 8 is that you can stop creating local user accounts for every individual in the household and start signing into your computer with your Windows Live ID. This is a major benefit in that you no longer need to sign into each networked application individually. Plus as time goes on more and more websites will take advantage of this already signed in behavior. But when setting up a Windows 8 computer for the first time I really think that you should not configure it with your Windows Live ID.

When configuring a fresh installation of Windows 8 here’s a screen shot of what you’ll see (note: these screens are from the Consumer Preview release of Windows 8 and may change by the time Windows 8 hits RTM):

Note in the text in the bottom left hand corner that says “Don’t want to sign in with a Microsoft account?” This text is a button and you should press it. The reason why? I’m a firm believer in keeping the computers admin account separate from the account that’s used for personal data. Windows Live ID’s are connected to your personal data (email, pictures, etc). So click on the “Don’t want to” text and progress to the next screen.



The next screen you’re taken to is one which explains the differences between the two account types. Again it encourages you to select “Microsoft account”, but don’t do it. You want to select the “Local account” button.






Finally you get to create the local account. This account is the one that you’ll use as your administrator account. This account should be kept separate from your daily usage of your computer. You should rarely log into this account. You’ll primarily only interact with this account your UAC dialogs during the installation of new programs. You keep it separate from your daily usage so that malware don’t have the credentials to do lasting damage to your computer.

Now that the local administrator account is setup how do you take advantage of the tie in with Windows Live? On the Windows Start Screen type “user”. The first “Setting” which will appear will be the Users app. Select it and you’ll see an “Add a user” button on the right side of the screen. Press that button and you’ll see this:

Add the email address of everyone you want to have a user account on the system (don’t forget to include yourself). Then, the next time you sign into the computer sign in with your Windows Live ID. Make sure to not associate a Live ID with administrative privileges on your computer; doing so is asking for a disaster to happen with your personal data.

I love how Windows 8 makes use of Live ID’s. I think it reduces the burden of using a computer in this increasingly interconnected world. I understand why Microsoft is pushing using Live ID’s in the computer setup, it’s a new paradigm for most people, but I don’t like how doing so at setup results in Live ID’s becoming admins on local systems. Windows 8 is the beginning of a shift in the ease of usability of interacting with our computers, but let’s make sure we do it right.

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