Screenshots Windows 8: Local account or Microsoft account

The ultimate cloud-based feature in Windows 8 is SkyDrive

I've also heard from Windows 8 users who are currently using one account type and are now wondering if they should instead be using the other account type. Well, that's a hard question to answer because it really depends on how you want to use the operating system. However, it is important to keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with using a Local account to sign into Windows 8 and likewise there is nothing wrong with using a Microsoft account to sign into Windows 8.

In this article, I'll take a closer look at the two different types of user accounts that you can use to sign in to Windows 8. As I do, I'll examine each type of account in detail and explain how you can work with each of them.

Direct connection to the Cloud

Because the recommended method of signing in to Windows 8 is with a Microsoft account, you might get the idea that Microsoft designed the operating system with the Cloud in mind, and you'd be right. If you use a Microsoft account to sign in, your Windows 8 system will automatically be tied into all of the Microsoft online services that you are currently using with that same Microsoft account. You'll also have quick access to the Microsoft Store, which requires the use of a Microsoft account in order to download apps. In addition, if you sign in to more than one Windows 8 system and use the same Microsoft account, you'll discover that many of your settings are instantly synced between the systems.

For example, if you have a Hotmail email account and then use those Microsoft account credentials to sign in to Windows 8, you can go to the Start screen, click the Mail tile and instantly access all your mail messages. Likewise, you can click the People tile and instantly access all the contacts that you have set up in your Hotmail account. If you have an existing MSN/Live Messenger account associated with your Microsoft account, you can click the Messaging tile and immediately send messages to your contacts.

However, the ultimate Cloud-based feature in Windows 8 is SkyDrive. Again, assuming that the Microsoft account you use to sign in to Windows 8 is the same as the account you used when you set up SkyDrive, just click the SkyDrive tile and you'll immediately have access to all the documents, photos, videos, and other files that you have stored in your SkyDrive folders, as illustrated in Figure B.

Credit: Images by Greg Shultz for TechRepublic

By Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.