While installing Windows 8 (the preview builds), right before the setup is about to make your PC ready it asks you whether you would like to use a local account or the Microsoft account to administer the computer.
If you choose the Microsoft account, you will have to provide your Windows login credentials, and you would be able to sync all your settings, Metro Apps from the stores and SkyDrive files seamlessly.
Users on local accounts, on the other hand, are treated as second-class citizens and don’t get the online sync facilities which can be very helpful if you have multiple devices running Windows 8 on it, and also if you are looking for a way to sync all your apps and settings automatically.
If you have chosen local account while configuring Windows, it’s not too late. You can easily link your local account to Windows account and enjoy all the perks of online sync and backup through SkyDrive.
Changing Local Account to Windows Account
Step 1: When you are on Windows 8 desktop, open the Charm Bar using the Windows+C hotkey and click on Change PC Settings to open the Metro PC Settings.
Step 2: In PC Settings navigate to the Users section. If you are connected via a local account you will see your account name in there along with the option button to Switch to Microsoft Account.
Step 3: The account setup process will initiate and ask you for your Windows account email. You will have to provide the password of your account in the next step along with your phone info. Having done that, Windows 8 will link your local account to your Microsoft account which will be used to control your account in the future.
The button Switch to Microsoft Account will now turn into Switch to local account in case you need to switch over to local account in the future. Also, after you start using the Microsoft Account, the password you used in the local account will no longer remain valid, and you will have to use your Microsoft account password to login to Windows in the future.
The Risks Involved
With all these amazing features, the online Microsoft account linking comes with certain risks. We all know that more than 4,50,000 Yahoo accounts were compromised in the recent past and all these login credentials were leaked online.
Well, these types of security outbreaks don’t occur very often but one can’t guarantee that it won’t ever happen to you or Microsoft. It’s the same risk that comes with using any online storage and sync option.
For an in-depth explanation of security risks involved, you should read The hidden danger of Windows 8 Microsoft Accounts by Woody Leonhard from InfoWorld.
Overall, using a Microsoft account is much more user-friendly than using a local account. We are living in the era of cloud computing, and it’s on us whether we choose to accept or deny the freedom. The risk of data getting compromised is always there but it’s certainly less than the level of comfort and convenience that comes along with such cloud services.