Microsoft's Windows 8 will leverage Windows Live ID to sync user settings across multiple devices, in yet another extension of its "all in" cloud strategy.
Microsoft will offer the ability to
sign into Windows 8 with a Windows Live ID, a move that places the
next-generation operating system in heightened competition with both Google
Android and Apple's upcoming iCloud.
According to a Sept. 26 posting on the "Building Windows 8" blog, doing so will "ensure
that each PC user has a truly personal experience that seamlessly bridges their
online and offline tasks, is simpler to set up and use, and persists across
their set of Windows 8 PCs."
A newly purchased Windows 8 PC will
give users the option of creating an account linked to a Windows Live ID. From
that point forward, signing into any Windows 8 PC with that Windows Live ID
will activate the user's personalized settings on that machine. Those settings
apparently include "lock screen picture, desktop background, user tile, browser
favorites and history, spell check dictionaries, Explorer settings, mouse
settings, and accessibility settings."
That Windows Live ID will also sync
Windows 8's Metro-style apps, including their settings and most recent state.
Users will have the ability to customize which settings sync between PCs.
Websites that leverage the Windows Live ID, such as Hotmail, will not require a
second sign-in after the initial log-in to Windows 8.
The ability to sync across multiple
devices is a growing trend in the tech world, with different companies offering
their own variation on the theme. Use your laptop to send an email via Gmail,
for example, and your nearby Google Android tablet will update to reflect the
new communication. Apple's iCloud, due to ship this fall, will sync contacts,
calendar, email, photos and music between users' various devices.
Given Microsoft's much-touted "all in"
cloud strategy, it's unsurprising that Windows 8-widely expected to release
sometime in 2012-will offer tight integration with online services.
For the past few weeks, Microsoft has
unveiled aspects of its Windows 8 operating system, which is being designed to
run on both tablets and traditional PCs. It will do so by offering two distinct
user environments: the desktop, instantly familiar to anyone who's used
Windows, alongside a touch-enabled interface featuring colorful tiles that link
Microsoft executives have spent
considerable time over the past few weeks trumpeting Windows 8's "no
compromises" ability to provide both a lightweight mobility experience and the
sort of features desired by power users. Expect that, over the next few months,
they will begin to focus more and more on how Windows 8 uses the cloud.
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Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.