Chapter 7: User accounts and account settings

It's important to note that you can log in to Windows 8 either as a local user, or with an online Microsoft account. If you use a Microsoft account, then you will be able to share many of your settings, such as your Lock Screen picture, user account picture, Favourites and Desktop background, across any other Windows 8 computers that you log into using your Microsoft account. If you use a local account to log in to your computer, then you will only have access to the local settings that you have configured for that particular computer.

A Microsoft account is a new type of account, but if you already have a Hotmail account or a Windows Live ID, then you can use that account to log in to your computer and that will become your Microsoft account. The Microsoft account facilitates access to other services as well, such as Xbox Live, Outlook (the new name for Hotmail) and SkyDrive, which is Microsoft's new cloud storage service.

The first time you boot up a Windows 8 computer, you will be asked to log in. Don't worry if you don't already have a Microsoft account. You will be able to create one very easily, as long as your computer has an active Internet connection.

With a Microsoft account, more user settings can be managed online, including your password and security features, and you can also add connections to your Twitter, Facebook and Gmail accounts, which will then allow you to have all of your contacts in one place. These contacts will show up in the 'People' app on the Start screen and, for example, you'll be able to read Twitter updates and statuses through this app.

Another thing that having a Microsoft account allows you to do is access the Microsoft Store. It is from this store that you can download new apps for your Windows 8 computer. Microsoft keeps a library of all the apps that you have downloaded in your account, and when you use another computer you are able to bring up this library and install any apps that you may need on your new computer. This only applies to apps that you have downloaded from the Microsoft Store, not apps that you may have downloaded through a Web browser or installed off a disc.

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Next chapter: What are Windows 8 apps and where do I get them?

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